Here's the Bills news of note for Dec. 6th.
1 - Darby out of concussion protocol
Rex Ryan provided some good news on the injury front at his Monday press conference.
Starting cornerback Ronald Darby is out of the NFL's concussion protocol. Darby was injured in the first quarter of the Jacksonville game two weeks ago, and was unable to practice all of last week. Ryan said that the Bills will monitor Darby this week and see how he progresses as the Bills get closer to their tilt with the Steelers on Sunday.
Of course, the Bills are hoping to see Darby return to help the secondary against a team that is averaging 265 yards per game through the air, with the fourth-most passing touchdowns in the NFL.
Also on the defensive side of the ball, Ryan said that linebacker Lerentee McCray was placed into the concussion protocol on Monday and the team will watch him as the week goes on. McCray has appeared in all 12 games this season and has made an impact on special teams.
Finally Ryan said that John Miller, who was in the concussion protocol on Sunday, was medically cleared late in the game by doctors, but the Bills held him out because of how little time was left in the game. Patrick Lewis stepped in for him at right guard. Miller missed the last couple of Bills series, but Ryan said that his starting right guard would be good to go this week.
2 - Gilmore playing strong down the stretch
Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore knows that he is going to have the biggest challenge of the season on his hands come Sunday.
With the Steelers coming to Buffalo, it brings forth the challenge of trying to stop Antonio Brown. Brown has four touchdowns the last two games for 11 total on the season, and is already over 1,000 yards through 12 games.
Gilmore has already faced his fair share of tough matchups this season, but he admits that Brown is an entirely different breed.
"That's another great receiver this year that I'm playing against," Gilmore said. "I've gone against a lot of great receivers and I've done my thing. Another great receiver coming in and it's going to be a great opportunity."
Gilmore said that he would love the opportunity to guard Brown for the entire game, but he knows that in Ryan's system, he will be splitting those duties with Buffalo's other starting corner.
Ryan said that he has matched up his top corner on top receivers before, and likes the fact that Gilmore wants the challenge of covering Brown for the game.
"Well I've done it in the past," Ryan said. "But when you do have two really good corners you feel great about, then most of the time – I know they're really comfortable playing left and right. But, I will say this: Stephon is playing about as good as any corner in the league right now. I mean, he's right there. The last three weeks in particular, he's been absolutely outstanding."
Brown and Gilmore have met only once before. In Week 10 of the 2013 season, Brown helped lead the Steelers to a 23-10 victory over the Bills with six catches for 104 yards. Gilmore started that game and registered three tackles.
It is already apparent that Gilmore is anxious for this week's matchup and determined to not let Brown have a repeat of that performance from 2013.
"I wish I could follow the best receiver, but whatever the coach wants me to do I'll do," Gilmore.
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3 - Backing Tyrod
Ryan made it clear on Sunday that he is just as confident in Tyrod Taylor this week as he was at the start of the season.
Taylor went 9-of-10 for 110 yards in the first quarter, but a variety of factors limited him to just over 80 yards for the remaining three quarters.
Ryan said that he watched the game film, and quickly came to his quarterback's defense on Monday.
"I just think it is easy to sit back and be critical, but if you are playing without five receivers in the game, I have a feeling--regardless of it is Tom Brady or anybody else-- I think it is going to affect you, and that unfortunately has been kind of where we are," Ryan said. "But hopefully we will get some more guys healthy and be more effective in the passing game."
Those injuries forced the Bills to use Justin Hunter in the slot for the first time in his career, and to dress Dezmin Lewis for his second career game.
Ryan said on Monday that Robert Woods was doing better, as Taylor hopes to have his favorite target from this season back after missing the previous two contests.
Taylor's performance on Sunday was a microcosm of the Bills as a team, as they were unable to string together consistent 60-minute efforts on the season. He has thrown for under 200 yards in three consecutive games --including only one passing touchdown in that span-- which has forced Ryan to have to answer questions about his quarterback's future.
"I'm pleased with Tyrod Taylor. I think he gives us the best chance to win," Ryan said. "I think he's a good quarterback. But our focus is strictly on Pittsburgh, so anything past that I don't think it's even an appropriate conversation right now."
For a team that gave up 29 unanswered points in the second half, things can be cleaned up in all phases of the game, which Ryan says will help Taylor have the opportunity to make the necessary plays.
"Whether it is Tyrod, whether the offense, the defense, the coaching, whatever, it is the same thing we didn't get it done," Ryan said. "It wasn't good enough, so that is how I look at it. Through the year I will let you guys make that evaluation on your own. But I think he has played extremely well in a lot of games this year."