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Joe B: 5 takeaways from Bills HC Rex Ryan (10/19/16)

Posted at 2:59 PM, Oct 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-19 21:36:53-04

The Buffalo Bills returned to the practice field on Wednesday, with the hopes and dreams of extending the current winning streak to five games. Next up, they’re taking on the Miami Dolphins down in Florida.

With it being Week Seven, the Bills also welcomed back first-round pick Shaq Lawson to practice, with the desire to see how he’ll respond to the workload. How did he fair, and what else happened at One Bills Drive on Wednesday?

Five takeaways from Rex Ryan and practice:

1) Shaq is back, but will he play?
- At long last, the Buffalo Bills welcomed back first round selection Shaq Lawson to the practice field. It’s the first time Lawson has practiced with the team since June, and really, the first time we’ve seen him in shoulder pads during an official session with the team.

 

 

The question remains: will the Bills actually have Lawson in any capacity Sunday in Miami? At this point, the Bills don’t even know. Just as Rex Ryan did on Monday, he reiterated the Bills wanting to be smart with Lawson and not rush him back into the lineup too quickly. After all, Lawson has only practiced one day with the team, and the term ‘game shape’ is one they’ll consider. Rex did say, however, that they’ll put him in with the first team a few times and see how he does. If he comes out well, then we’ll see Lawson on Sunday. If he doesn’t the Bills will need to wait — and if he’s not ready, I think it’s the smartest thing for all parties. You’ve waited this long, just wait until he’s fully ready and his body is acclimated to the game if he isn’t this week.

2) An interesting view of Lawson during practice
- In his first practice back, it was a bit interesting as to where he was lined up on Wednesday. A presumed outside linebacker in the scheme, it still may end up being the case. However, Lawson was not with the outside linebackers during the positional portion of practice — he was with Kyle Williams, Leger Douzable, Adolphus Washington and the rest of the defensive linemen.

 

 

Lawson is a bit of a bigger bodied pass rusher, and even in that video above, many fans responded that they forgot how big the rookie is. It’s our first glimpse of their role for him, as potentially a versatile edge rusher that can play both the rush linebacker spot and as a five technique defensive end when the Bills are in nickel. It’s early, but him working with a different group than expected is at least notable.

3) Bills not “overly concerned” about Clay, Woods
- Ahead of practice, Rex Ryan made the announcement that tight end Charles Clay, wide receiver Robert Woods, left tackle Cordy Glenn, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, and outside linebacker Lerentee McCray would not practice on Wednesday. For Glenn, it’s been a similar structure for him over the past couple of weeks — just to give him an extra rest day for his ever-improving ankle. For Clay and Woods, though, it’s a new injury for both players. Clay suffered an ankle injury, while Woods is dealing with a foot ailment. It’s huge news because those two have become the lifeblood of the passing attack without Sammy Watkins, and not having them would be a huge blow to keeping the offense varied and, well, afloat. On the duo, Rex Ryan said that he is not “overly concerned” about their availability for Sunday. At the start of the week, it appears the Bills are in good shape there, but as always, we’ll have to see how the rest of the week plays out.

4) Dareus gets a “hopeful” tag
- When talking about not being “overly concerned” with Clay and Woods’ potential availability on Sunday, Rex also let the line “about all of those guys,” slip into the answer. When pressed immediately if he also meant Marcell Dareus, who has missed the last two games because of a hamstring injury, the Bills head coach backtracked a little bit. For Dareus, it went from “not overly concerned” to just “hopeful,” which insinuated there being a little less confidence that they’d actually get Dareus back in time for Week Seven. Dareus was seen on the stationary bike after the media viewing portion of practice ended for the day, but we haven’t seen him do much else on the hamstring since he injured it less than two weeks ago. Because of the nature of the injury, I think the odds are likely against Dareus being able to play against Miami this weekend, given that hamstrings usually need at least three weeks to fully heal — and its not an injury you can afford to let linger, because a re-aggravation could mean an even more serious pull, and potentially more missed time. Most times, it’s better to bite the bullet and rest the player — no matter how important they are — until it’s fully healed and there is no lingering pain when trying to accelerate.

5) Rex doesn’t go anywhere near Mario talk
- The Bills have an interesting matchup on the docket with the Miami Dolphins not only because it’s against a rival in the AFC East, but because it’s the first time they’ll be going up against former Bills defensive end Mario Williams since releasing him this past offseason. Williams signed another big contract down in Miami, and has drawn some criticism from both his head coach Adam Gase, and the media in Miami for his play this season. It came to a head, because in the Dolphins win over Pittsburgh, Williams had only 13 snaps on the field. Of course, we all remember how the situation devolved in 2015. Williams was quite critical of the defensive scheme last season, and it led to a lot of disharmonious moments between he and the coaching staff. The Bills rid themselves of Mario, and as a result, Rex Ryan was asked a bevy of questions about the defensive end on Wednesday. To his credit, he sidestepped them all:

 

 

Regardless of how much Mario Williams is or is not on the field, considering how well they know him, the Bills will have to continue to be cognizant of his abilities as a powerful pass rusher going up against right tackle Jordan Mills.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia