6 things we learned from the players ahead of Bills vs. Saints on Thanksgiving

Stefon Diggs (14). Buffalo Bills Week 11 practice, November 23, 2021. Photo by James Acton

1. Josh Allen and Jordan Poyer explain what playing on Thanksgiving means to them

Football on Thanksgiving is an American tradition like no other. Multiple games, great food and being surrounded by loved ones is an amazing way to celebrate the day. The players take great pride in playing on Thanksgiving because of the fact they have been watching it on the holiday since they were kids. Josh Allen and Jordan Poyer are both honored to be a part of this tradition and are eager for the big stage and the bright lights on Thursday night. 

"You can understand the setting," Allen said. "I remember as a kid sitting down on Thanksgiving watching all three games. So, I think it's a really cool experience. And not everybody's played on a Thursday night with some of the younger guys especially. It's a fun experience, especially on Thanksgiving Day just knowing how many people are gonna be watching. But at the end of the day, it's still football, it's still the same game that we've been playing since we were little kids and we got to find a way to go out there and execute and try and win a football game."

"We got to come ready to play," Poyer said. "It's a special night, and extremely blessed to have the opportunity to play in a game like this. When I was growing up, it was a game that my family got together, and we were watching every single year. Everybody's watching, so we're excited for the opportunity."

2. The Diggs family is split for Thanksgiving

Stefon Diggs has played on Thanksgiving one other time in his career (2017). That year, Diggs' mom was in attendance for the game. This year things are a bit different. His brother, Trevon, is a corner for the Dallas Cowboys and he too will be playing on Thursday. Since she can't be in two places at once, she will be watching from home and Diggs is glad she isn't picking favorites between him and his brother. 

"Typically, when I was in the league by myself, my mom would probably come to my game," Diggs said. "But she's gonna sit on the couch for this one, and watch the game with my nephew, Aaiden. I guess she'll cheer both teams on, just because I would feel a way if she would show a little favoritism on Thanksgiving. So, she's gonna just watch the game at home, and cheer us on from the couch. Hopefully we'll see her soon after that, but it's a family day, and we're in different places."

3. Jordan Poyer discusses the challenges of facing Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram

Jordan Poyer has played against Mark Ingram twice, once with the Browns and once with the Bills. He's only played against Alvin Kamara once back when the Saints visited Buffalo back in 2017. Both Ingram and Kamara eclipsed 100 yards when they played Buffalo that season. He knows first-hand how tough and versatile these running backs are. According to the Saints injury report, Kamara didn't practice on Monday or Tuesday and Ingram didn't practice on Tuesday – both dealing with knee injuries. Currently, their game status is unknown, but Poyer knows if they play that getting them to the ground and limiting their big plays will be of the utmost importance.

"They're both very explosive, very electric with the ball in their hands," Poyer said. "And I think it just comes back down to fundamentals--taking good angles, everybody doing their 1/11th, being gap sound, taking good angles and rallying to the football. We try to talk about not having one-on-one tackles, so just everybody running to the football and that takes care of a lot of things."

4. Stefon Diggs reflects on the Minneapolis Miracle

On January 14, 2018, Stefon Diggs made a huge play against the Saints that is one of the most memorable in NFL history. The 61-yard touchdown with time expiring sent the Vikings to the NFC Championship game and cemented Diggs as one of the best big-play receivers in the NFL. With playing the Saints again on Thursday, Diggs was asked after practice about his thoughts of that game. He noted that he tries not to live in the past, but he understands how big of a moment that was for him. 

"I think about it maybe a couple of times a year now, around the time when the playoffs come, and they run it back," Diggs said. "They'll bring up some of the highlights from the past – my play, the Demaryius Thomas play, just a couple plays like that. And for me, that's something that I'm always gonna be looking back like, 'Damn, I'm gonna tell my kids that one day.'"

5. Allen touches on the atmosphere in the locker room during the short week

After Sunday's loss, the team didn't have much time to feel bad for themselves because of this shortened week. With a game on Thursday, they had to quickly change gears and put all their focus into beating the Saints. The players said that they had a great day of practice on Tuesday, one that was filled with energy. The players and coaches are eager to get the bad taste of Sunday out of their system and show the world what kind of team the Buffalo Bills are. After practice, Allen described the team's current mindset.

"I'd say focused," Allen stated. "You can't feel sorry for yourself, you can't let one week affect another week. I think it's very fortunate that we have a Thursday night game that we have to turn our attention to our next opponent because, again, we can't let one bad week turn into two. We have to go out there and we're excited to get out there on Thursday and try to be the team that we know we can be. That's a team that's willing to do whatever it takes to win a football game and go out there and execute and play situational football and try to win a game."

6. Stefon Diggs praises Marshon Lattimore, and Saints secondary

Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore has been one of the top defensive backs in the league since he was drafted in 2017. The three-time Pro Bowl selection and 2017 defensive rookie of the year has played against Diggs four times in his career. In three out of the four games, Diggs has had six or more catches and over 90 receiving yards. This will be Diggs first time playing against Lattimore as a member of the Bills and he is excited for the challenge. 

"[Marshon Lattimore] is one of the best corners in the league," Diggs said. "They've had some of the best backends for a while now. They're well-coached, they got great athletes so it's definitely gonna be a challenge for us as usual. Week-to-week I get challenged and I get the best guys every week and it's never any surprise. So, it's something that we all look forward to, especially myself and you just try and come up with the win."