Here is the Bills news of note for Dec. 11th.
1 - Gillislee is the goal line backThe Bills lead the NFL with 23 rushing touchdowns this season. And though LeSean McCoy leads the team with nine, both Mike Gillislee and Tyrod Taylor are not far behind with six apiece. Over the final month of the season Gillislee will have a bona fide chance to catch McCoy for the team lead.
That's because offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn confirmed that Gillislee is the team's designated goal line back.
"Shady is one of the most explosive backs in the league. He can get a lot of his touchdowns from outside the red zone, but Mike is that decisive, no nonsense type runner that you're looking for inside the three, two-yard line," said Lynn. "That's his role and everybody in the backfield knows that's his role and he's going to get those touches when we get down there. And Shady is good with that."
That doesn't mean that McCoy won't be on the field when the team is in the red zone. He had a seven-yard touchdown run just a couple of weeks ago against Jacksonville. But when they're inside the opponent's five-yard line, Gillislee will be the back on the field as was the case last Sunday against the Raiders when he had a pair of goal line touchdown runs.
Gillislee's six rushing touchdowns have all come in the last seven games.
2 - Dareus back in top flight formBills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has been a force in Buffalo's defensive front the last few weeks as he finally appears to be hitting his stride after the first half of his season was compromised by his suspension and groin and hamstring injuries. Headed down the stretch Dareus is playing some of his best ball.
"His conditioning is really good," said Thurman of Dareus. "He's been playing at a really high level. He's made a difference for us in the middle, as he should because of the greatness that he possesses. But he's been playing really, really well. We're happy with him."
Thurman says having Dareus in the middle of their defensive front gives them additional options just because of the way he can push the pocket in passing situations.
"It gives us flexibility in some of the things that we want to do, especially on the back end," said Thurman. "With him in there and as talented as he is we expect him to play well."
3 - Groy looking right at homeThe Bills have not had Eric Wood in the lineup on offense for three games now, but as GM Doug Whaley always says, we feel we have the kind of depth that when guys have to step in there isn't a drop-off. Backup center Ryan Groy has lived up to that billing.
"As O-linemen if you go unnoticed you're generally doing a good job. He's played well," said Wood of his replacement in the pivot. "Perfect? No, but I think he's played really well. I thought in the last game they had a really big nose guard and Groy locked him down. No penetration in Tyrod's face. I thought he did a really good job. It doesn't surprise me."
Even though early in the season when Groy was serving as an extra tight end, he made sure to get his time in at center with practice reps knowing he was Wood's understudy.
"I was preparing earlier like I was in Eric's shoes," said Groy. "I was watching everything he was doing. Watching the same film he was watching and making sure we were on the same page. Anybody knows that once a center goes down, especially a guy like Eric, he has so much communication on his plate that you can't lose a beat and go back in."
Head coach Rex Ryan believes the time that Groy has had on the field as an extra tight end during the season also helped him stay familiar with the pace of how everything operates on offense.
"I think he's done a really good job," said Ryan in his weekly appearance on Coffee with the Coach, presented by Tim Hortons. "I knew he'd handle it mentally. He's tremendous that way. In fact he could play any of the positions on the offensive line and even some tight end. I knew it wouldn't be a big transition, but from an athletic standpoint I think he's done a tremendous job for us."