With the most recent loss to the Miami Dolphins now behind them, the Buffalo Bills went back on to the practice field to prepare for a rather daunting task. Up next, they have the seemingly scorned New England Patriots coming to town led by Tom Brady — a Patriots team that has lost only once.
That one time, without Brady and at home against these same Buffalo Bills. Since Week Four, the Bills are a considerably different team that has tried to withstand numerous injuries. After Rex Ryan met with the media and getting on the practice field Wednesday, there were some intern events from the day.
Five takeaways from Bills practice:
1) Bills taking it slow with McCoy
- After star running back LeSean McCoy had to sit out the end of the game against Miami due to soreness in his hamstring, the alerts were sounded and immediately his availability for the upcoming game against New England was put into question. McCoy, by the eye test, did not look like the same player we had seen for the first six weeks of the season, even if head coach Rex Ryan proclaimed that the running back was 100-percent healthy in that game. Playing it safe to start the week, the Bills did not put him on the practice field on Wednesday, and as I went out to the start of practice, McCoy was doing work on the stationary exercise bike. The Bills say they’ll re-evaluate him on Thursday ahead of practice. The question remains, will he be ready to play on Sunday against the Patriots? Honestly, since it’s a hamstring injury, I’m of the belief that the Bills should just shut him down for the weekend — maybe even the next two weeks of games. If they do the latter, McCoy will have three full weeks of rest (with the bye week following the Seattle game) to get himself right for the stretch run of the season. Mike Gillislee is a capable enough running back to get them through two weeks. That’s what I would do, but we’ll see what the Bills will do over the next couple of days.
2) Dareus declares that he’s back
- Considering that the run defense of the Bills was stomped with ease by the Miami Dolphins to the tune of 200-plus yards, and with the indefatigable New England Patriots on the horizon, one development on Wednesday was as welcomed as any: Marcell Dareus returned to the practice field for the first time in nearly three weeks. A hamstring injury kept Dareus out of the last three games, and prevented him from making his 2016 debut. All of that appears to be in the past, as Dareus got back on the practice field
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) October 26, 2016
After the session, Dareus walked up to the podium, was asked about his playing status and declared that he is, in fact, ready to play against the New England Patriots on Sunday. It would be a great development for the Bills considering last week’s performance against the Dolphins, but, it’s also one that is likely to be met with caution. Dareus has practiced all of four times during the regular season, and as a 330-pound guy coming off a hamstring injury, I’d expect the Bills won’t put a full load on him in his first game back. Somewhere around the 50-percent mark of snaps or slightly above that seems like the sweet spot for his first game back. A big reason for the poor result on the ground was because of the play of nose tackle Corbin Bryant, who just wasn’t able to occupy multiple blockers in the middle of the defense like Dareus likely can. The first step: get him back on the field on game day, and then go from there.
3) Aaron Williams has more neck concerns
- The scariest moment of the Bills loss to the Dolphins was when Miami wide receiver Jarvis Landry served up a crackback block on safety Aaron Williams that left him rolling around on the ground. Williams immediately went to the locker room, and was then transported to a hospital by an ambulance. On Wednesday, Rex Ryan revealed that Williams is dealing with a neck injury, not a concussion — which is scary news. Last year, Williams was on the verge of retirement because of a neck injury suffered in the first half of the season, but he slowly worked himself back in the offseason, and got on the field in 2016. Williams, unsurprisingly, did not participate in practice on Wednesday. Rex Ryan was then asked if it was a possibility that the safety might not play on Sunday, Rex Ryan — who has recently not given much for injuries this early in the week said, “Yeah, I would say so.” All the best to Williams, after a dirty hit that resulted in him getting cold-clocked. You never want to see that happen to anyone.
4) Woods practiced... lightly
- The Bills wide receiver group is facing quite a bit of adversity this week. Already without Sammy Watkins and Greg Salas, the Bills also have questions about the availability of both Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods. Goodwin is in concussion protocol and did not participate on Wednesday, while Woods was actually able to get on the field for practice. His foot injury kept him on the shelf against Miami, but Woods was out there during positional work — and I didn’t see him do all that much in the time that the media was allowed to watch practice. Woods didn’t participate in routes versus air, instead looking on from behind the drill. We’ll see if Woods can do more on Thursday — perhaps he was just getting his feet wet on Wednesday.
5) Rex Ryan’s Wes Welker?
- At this point, we fully know about Rex Ryan’s… at times… infatuation with the New England Patriots. And now, he’s got his own Wes Welker. Well, kind of. The Bills recently promoted wide receiver Ed Eagan from the practice squad, and when asked about him, Rex Ryan said that he physically looks the part of Welker.
— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) October 26, 2016
Eagan, obviously, has a long way to go to ever get near Wes Welker levels of admiration. Eagan is a rookie out of Northwestern State, and is generously listed at 5-foot-10. If Woods and Goodwin both can’t play, Eagan may need to play a role this weekend. If those things don’t go the Bills way, that means Justin Hunter and Walt Powell will be the starting receivers on the outside, which could pave the way for reps in the slot for Eagan. A receiving group of Hunter, Powell, Eagan, and Brandon Tate likely isn’t going to put fear into the Patriots cornerbacks.
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