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Bills Today: Dawkins to make third straight start


1 - Dawkins slated for third-straight start
Rookie offensive tackle, Dion Dawkins, has become a regular on Buffalo's O-line. He'll make his third-straight start in the Week 12 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dawkins has seen a lot of time on the left side of the line as tackle, Cordy Glenn, struggles to recover from an ankle/foot injury. Dawkins has been on the field more times than not in his rookie season. He's played 58-percent of the team's offensive snaps. While Glenn has played 42-percent as injuries continue to linger.[internal-link-placeholder-0]

In Dawkins' most recent start in Week 11, Buffalo tallied 173 rushing yards, their second-best total this season. He was also the highest-graded tackle by Pro Football Focus that week. The rookie mentioned after Friday's practice the key to sustaining this success.

"Focus on my technique and listen to whatever my older guys tell me," he said.

Dawkins has proved to be a solid second-round pick for the Bills. As he continues to tack on quality starts Buffalo's opponents will take notice.

"They probably see it. It's just a respect thing," he said. "It will take me from being, 'Oh, he's just a rookie,' to understanding this rookie has a little bit more to him. They might take me a little more serious."

The Chiefs defense ranks in the bottom-five of many major categories. They've allowed 1,292 rushing yards (29th), 4.6 yards-per-attempt (29th), and 10 rushing touchdowns (30th). Their D-line has also struggled to get pressure, only notching 19 sacks (24th) this season. Dawkins will look to take advantage of the Chiefs weaknesses to provide another strong start on Sunday. 

2 - Opportunities continue for Cadet with Tolbert out
Mike Tolbert's hamstring injury will keep him out for a second-straight game. Recently acquired running back, Travaris Cadet, will serve as LeSean McCoy's sidekick out of the backfield against the Chiefs.

Cadet signed with Buffalo on Nov. 4, and was active for the first time against the Chargers in Week 11. He tallied a team-high six receptions for 39 yards. It was Cadet's best receiving game since Jan. 3, 2016, when he reeled in six catches for 77 yards as a member of the Saints.

"We had two bad weeks back-to-back. Sometimes in life we lose when we really don't want to," Cadet said. "I think how we respond will show our true character. It feels good to get out there with the guys. This is my new family and hopefully we'll do big things."

The 6-1, 210-pound running back was most productive through the air in Week 11. Though, he did add three carries for 17 yards on the ground.

"I got a feel for how the offensive line blocks," he said. "I got a feel for both quarterbacks, Tyrod and Nate. I got a feel for the mentality of this team and their will to win."

Cadet was one of Buffalo's bright spots from their game last Sunday. Hopefully he'll be just as productive against the Chiefs in his second appearance with the team.

"It was good to get out there with the team and finally produce in a positive way. I did some good things, I did some bad," he said. "I'm learning a new way, the Bills way. I'm just happy to be here and thankful for the opportunity. I'm looking forward to getting a win on Sunday." 

3 - Containing Hill and Kelce will be key
Today's game will serve as an opportunity for Buffalo's defense to rebound after recent struggles. They've allowed a 100-yard receiver in back-to-back weeks and 101 combined points.  It won't come easily, as the Chiefs have two extremely-talented receivers in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

Kelce, who ranks first among tight ends in receptions (59) and receiving yards (738), will be on Buffalo's radar all afternoon. Safety, Jordan Poyer, will spend a lot of time covering Kelce throughout the game. Pro Football Focus highlighted the matchup between the shutdown safety and the TE.

*This is a great matchup between the tight end with the highest receiving grade at 89.8 in Kelce, and the safety with the eighth best coverage grade in Poyer at 89.6. Kelce is PFF's top ranked tight end with an 88.8 overall grade in 2017… Poyer's 83.0 overall grade ranks 18th at the safety position through Week 11. He has allowed 17 receptions for 202 yards in 324 coverage snaps, and no touchdowns with two interceptions. *

The defense can't focus too much on Kelce, as Hill has the speed of a track star. Buffalo's secondary has to show up in Kansas City in order get back on track.

"He's a great player. Dynamic player. He makes you have great defensive spacing, not only on defense but also on special teams," McDermott said of Hill. "Some of that is awareness as to where we are or where my teammate is so that we're not stacking one another. We play with great leverage on the ball. This offense, as does Tyreek Hill, makes you tackle in space and so our angles to the football [and] our fundamentals have to be top notch."



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