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Joe B: 5 takeaways from Bills HC Rex Ryan (11/30/16)

Posted at 2:39 PM, Nov 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-30 18:29:51-05

Needing near perfection through the final stretch of the 2016 regular season, the Buffalo Bills took to the practice field for the first time this week — ahead of their upcoming showdown with the 9-2 Oakland Raiders on the road. At 6-5, the Bills have found themselves hoping that things go their way from an injury perspective at a few different spots on the roster.

Bills head coach Rex Ryan addressed reporters ahead of the practice, and offered a few different tidbits on his roster.

Five takeaways from Rex Ryan on Wednesday:

1) Dareus looking like he’ll play
- The Buffalo Bills weren’t sure what they were going to get when the practice week started with stud defensive lineman Marcell Dareus. Against Jacksonville, Dareus suffered an abdominal strain late in the third quarter and didn’t return to the playing field for the rest of the afternoon. On Monday, all Rex Ryan would say was that the team was hopeful that the defensive lineman would be able to play, but offered up no real definitive statement on his outlook. On Wednesday, though, it was a different story.

 

 

This is a huge development for the Bills, who just lost Corbin Bryant for the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury, and Bryant was the main backup at nose tackle when Dareus isn’t able to play. Plus, Dareus has been flat out dominant when he’s been on the field this season. Dareus has played in three of the team’s last four games, and each time he’s been one of the best players — if not the best — on the field. Dareus was a huge reason for the Bills keeping the Jaguars at bay in the first half, all the while being essentially outplayed. Being available this week, against a great Oakland offensive line, is a big development for the Bills to try and win the battle up front.

2) Bad news: Darby still in concussion protocol
- Early on in Sunday’s game, the Bills starting cornerbacks were off to a great start. Ronald Darby was playing with as much confidence as we’ve seen in the past several weeks, and the Jaguars weren’t even daring to go after Stephon Gilmore on the left side of the offense. Then, Darby tried to chip in on a tackle, hit his head, and left the game with a concussion — only to be replaced by veteran journeyman Corey White. The drop-off from Darby’s showing early in the game to what White did against Allen Robinson was a large one, and it helped create a major advantage for Jacksonville in the game. As of Wednesday, Darby was still in concussion protocol — which is not a good sign for his ability to play this weekend against Oakland. The Bills would need Darby to pass his baseline test and get back on the practice field likely by Thursday if they want to get him on the field Sunday — and boy do they need him. The Bills are going up against one of the most prolific passing attacks in the NFL this season, and the wide receivers would be a challenge for them even with the top two corners on the roster available. Add in the fact that the Bills have been undermanned at safety since Aaron Williams was injured in Miami, and it could be a major mismatch in the Raiders’ favor. Thursday is a big day for Darby and the Bills.

3) Logan Thomas buzz building
- The brand new toy for the Buffalo Bills is one they’re going to keep in its original box for the time being. The ultra intriguing tight end Logan Thomas — who stands 6-foot-6, 250-pounds, and is still only 25 years old — finally made the switch from quarterback just this week. The Bills acted quickly and scooped him up from Detroit’s practice squad, knowing full well that this was much more than just a five-week audition.

 

 

Bills head coach Rex Ryan told reporters that with the type of size, athleticism, and want to learn that Thomas has, they wanted to take a calculated and low cost shot at getting a tight end to potentially help the position in the future. The head coach acknowledged the fact that Thomas is a project for the team, and that he’d be inactive this week. However, if Thomas learns quickly enough, he could even find himself on the game day roster in the next week or two. It all depends on how quick of a study he is, but the Bills are going to give this one their best shot over time.

4) Rex Ryan giving Dez Lewis one last chance, it seems
- The Buffalo Bills went into the offseason unsure of who would grab hold of not only roster spots at wide receiver, but even a prominent role as the third wide receiver. Through the spring workouts, Dez Lewis had done everything right. He was winning workouts daily, catching everything thrown his way, and most importantly, he earned an opportunity to start training camp with a leg up on the rest of the competition. The summer, though, was not kind to Lewis. His old problem of drops came back to haunt him at St. John Fisher College, he was failing to separate from defensive backs when the pads went on and it became a bit more physical, and the coaches took notice. Lewis found himself buried on the depth chart, and wound up being waived during the final cuts. Since that time, Lewis has stayed on the practice squad and whenever he was brought up to Rex Ryan about possibility being brought on to the active roster, the head coach quickly dismissed it. Finally, the Bills gave Lewis the call-up, but Rex Ryan said it’s time to show results — in the only way Rex knew how:

 

 

The way I’m reading this: it’s perhaps one of the last golden opportunities Dez Lewis will have to show that he has learned over the past almost two seasons and be the receiver they hoped he could be. He’ll still likely be on the roster in the offseason, but there is no better opportunity for Lewis to impress the coaching staff than right now. That said, his opportunities will likely be limited — and he might even find himself inactive on game days where either Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, or both are able to play.

5) Kouandjio getting worked in?
- Before Seantrel Henderson was suspended by the NFL for an additional 10 games, the Bills gave him an opportunity to split reps at right tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals. Jordan Mills, the incumbent starter, has struggled for a large portion of the last five games for the Bills — and the coaches have taken notice by giving someone else a chance. Now with Henderson out of the picture, Cyrus Kouandjio might find himself in line to take some snaps from Mills. Kouandjio hasn’t seen much time on the field since taking the place of left tackle Cordy Glenn in Week One, and making two spot starts in Weeks Two and Three while Glenn was dealing with an ankle injury. Kouandjio wasn’t able to practice at right tackle on Wednesday, as Glenn sat out of Wednesday’s practice — which has been his routine for several weeks now. With how poorly Mills has played, even if Kouandjio doesn’t feel supremely comfortable at right tackle, it’s still worth a shot to see if he can provide a bit of a spark and hold the line a bit better than the incumbent has been. This could be a big opportunity for the former second-round pick to finally claim a starting job if all goes well.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia