As the Buffalo Bills prepare for their second game in five days to start off the 2016 regular season, head coach Rex Ryan and his team are already facing some adversity. Coming off a disappointing Week One loss to Baltimore where the offense was one of the worst in the league’s initial slate of games, the Bills don’t have any time to waste to try and avoid an 0-2 start.
Rex Ryan has met with the media each of the last two days and discussed various aspects of his team. My five takeaways from both the press conference, and the lone practice of the week:
1) Is Sammy Watkins a sure thing to play?
- I know what Sammy Watkins said on Monday. He told reporters that he would definitely be playing in the game on Thursday night against the New York Jets. Tyrod Taylor seems to think so, too. However, there are still some signs that it’s not as sure of a thing as it’s been indicated. For starters, for two straight days, Rex Ryan has not at any point issued a definitive statement regarding Watkins’ chances of playing this week. On Monday, he repeated — about five or six times — that they wanted to see how Watkins progresses before making a determination. On Tuesday, he said that he hadn’t even seen Watkins at that point ahead of practice, and that he’s “assuming what [Watkins] said is accurate.” The Bills also chose to have Watkins not participate in the lone practice of the week, instead working with the athletic training staff indoors while the rest of the team was on the field. With such a quick turnaround, and general complaints of him being sore just two days ago, logically you’d have to assume the Bills are still trying to decide if the wide receiver should play. The player will always want to play, this much is known about professional athletes. However, it’s on the front office, coaching, and medical staff to decide what’s best for the player and for the long-term of his foot condition. Even if he does dress, the Bills might even think to limit his snap count against the Jets. They need him for the entirety of the season, and if there are any doubts, it would be smart to rest him and give him a full two weeks off of the foot — regardless of what that does to the remainder of receiving group.
2) Cordy not out… at least not yet
- Halfway through the game against the Ravens, the Buffalo Bills found out that their starting left tackle Cordy Glenn would miss the rest of the game with an ankle injury — the same ankle that kept him out for most of the summer leading up to the season. Glenn was not on the practice field in any capacity on Tuesday, and the Bills said they would wait to see how the ankle progresses before offering up a final determination. However, on such a short week, Glenn would likely need to make significant strides in order to get back on the field in time for Thursday night against the Jets. The smarter play, with how much they’ve grown to trust Cyrus Kouandjio over the course of the summer, is to let the third-year player get the start and allow their unquestioned starter get two weeks off of his ankle before he’ll have to think about playing a game on it again. Even still, the Bills wouldn’t rule out Glenn playing against the Jets. However, all signs are pointing to that being the outcome for the Bills.
3) The Bills contingency plan at OL in the event of injury
- The depth of the offensive line was a huge talking point during the offseason and training camp, with worry that the Bills just didn’t have the type of talent past the starting five to compete in the event of injury. The progress of Cyrus Kouandjio was a welcomed sight to the Bills for that exact question, but along the interior, it was still firmly a question. So now in the event of Glenn being unable to play with Kouandjio starting at left tackle, and with a suspended Seantrel Henderson, what is the Bills’ contingency plan if either Kouandjio or right tackle Jordan Mills gets hurt? The answer: Ryan Groy — the team’s main swing interior offensive lineman. Groy didn’t exactly inspire confidence in the fan base after his time on the field during the preseason, and with the outside of the line being that much more difficult to play, that’s a potential treacherous situation. The Jets have a talented enough defensive line as it is, and any potential injury on the offensive line would put the Bills at a major disadvantage.
4) Gillislee will get a look
- Count me in as one of the people surprised that Mike Gillislee didn’t get any carries against the Baltimore Ravens. It was an interesting development that Reggie Bush was the main running back to spell starter LeSean McCoy, especially considering that Gillislee showed to be the more talented running back in between the tackles during training camp. It appears the Bills were not pleased with Bush’s output in that Week One game — a mere negative-4 yards on three carries in the game, and things will be changing a tad. While McCoy will continue to dominate the time on the field for the Bills, Rex Ryan said he expected the carries to increase for Gillislee against the Jets — and it’d be hard not to. The Bills didn’t give Gillislee a single carry, and only had him on the field for a total of three snaps.
5) Ronald Darby still ticked off
- The Bills weren’t able to get much going on offense against the Ravens in their Week One loss, and the defense had a glorious opportunity to provide the additional scoring punch. In the middle of the third quarter, still trailing the Ravens as they were for most of the game, the pressure from the Bills got to Joe Flacco immediately, he sent an errant pass towards the sidelines, and it looked like Ronald Darby had a clear interception, and likely a touchdown to go along with it. Instead, Darby let it go right through his hands and has apparently been frustrated since. Even though the team went through a mere walkthrough on Monday, Rex Ryan brought up the intensity Darby showed even in that setting, saying the cornerback got into a bit of an altercation — nothing serious, though — at practice. Ryan continued, saying that Darby is still taking it hard after not being able to make that play in the second half. Darby is right, though — that’s a play that had to be made, and it went through his hands. They’ll need him to quickly forget about it once they get back on the playing field on Thursday.
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