Here’s the Bills news of note for Nov. 4th.
1 – McCoy returns to practice
Rex Ryan had another lengthy injury report at the start of his press conference this week, but sprinkled in some positive news when he disclosed that LeSean McCoy would return to practice.
Ryan said that it was a positive sign, but did not give any indication as to whether McCoy would be ready for Monday night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
McCoy didn’t play last week against New England after aggravating a hamstring injury in Week 7 against the Dolphins, an injury that has been bothering him over the past few weeks.
“The game is Monday night, so I’ve got some time,” McCoy said. “Each day I’ll progress and get better and better. So we will see later on in the week.”
The Bills would love to have McCoy go against Seattle. The Seahawks are the NFL’s seventh-best rush defense, only allowing an average of 89.7 yards per game. Despite McCoy’s absence over the last game and a half, the Bills still rank first in the NFL in rushing yards per play this season, and second overall in rushing yards a game.
McCoy said that one of the biggest factors that he will weigh before deciding if he is good to go on Monday is the mental side of his game.
“Mentally, I feel great,” McCoy said. “But I have to get over that step of, ‘If I make this hard cut, will I feel it?’ Today I felt good, and I did it on a few different routes, but we’ll see.”
In addition to McCoy’s hamstring, the team is still without Reggie Bush, who is battling a groin injury he suffered against New England. Before he went down, Ryan said that he really liked how Bush was beginning to adapt to the role the Bills had given him in the offense.
McCoy said it has been tough to get much rhythm on offense with so many guys out of practice.
“It’s really important to get out here and practice with your teammates,” McCoy said. “Feel the blocks, feel the schemes, the game plan. It’s one thing to watch tape and dissect the team, it’s another thing to practice and prepare for the team that you are going to face.”
McCoy was having one of the best starts to a season of his career--with 598 yards and six touchdowns before the injury. McCoy said that even with a bye week looming, if he feels well enough to play, he wouldn’t think about sitting out for the extra rest. He agreed with his head coach, who called Monday’s matchup a must-win game.
“We have to win this game,” McCoy said. “If I can’t go, I can’t go. But right now I feel real good and I have a few more days before the game. If we play focused and mistake-free, we will be fine.”
2 – Blanton to be Aaron Williams primary replacement
With Aaron Williams placed on the injured reserve and out indefinitely with a neck injury, the Bills needed somebody to step at safety, opposite Corey Graham. Over the last two games, that player has been Robert Blanton.
Last week against New England, Blanton missed just one defensive snap. The Bills had been rotating Blanton, Jonathan Meeks, and Duke Williams whenever Aaron had to come out earlier in the season, but Meeks and Duke only had a combined six snaps on Sunday.
When Aaron went down against the Dolphins in Week 7, Blanton had 34 snaps, Meeks 11 and Duke one.
Rex Ryan said on Thursday that the coaches have been impressed with Blanton in his expanded role.
“We feel pretty good about our safeties,” Ryan said. “You know Duke, he took a big step forward. He does a ton for our team on special teams. A big contributor. And we’re just moving a lot of those guys in but Blanton is the guy that we feel most comfortable with as a starter opposite Corey.”
Blanton spent the first four years of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, and led the Vikings with 106 tackles in 2014. The Notre Dame product has 17 tackles this season, including seven last week.
Newly signed Sergio Brown is also going to provide depth at the position, and most likely take over Blanton’s role on special teams. “It’s great when other people have confidence in you, but I have a lot of confidence in myself and I think that’s most important,” Blanton said. “Believing in yourself is really what you need.”
3 – Goodwin hopeful for Monday night Marquise Goodwin took one step closer to playing on Monday night against Seattle.
Goodwin returned to practice on Thursday, but was limited, as he is being eased back in after suffering a concussion against the Dolphins in Week 7. He is out of the concussion protocol.
He said that the decision to play on Monday is still in the hands of the trainers, but that he is ready to get back out on the field with his teammates.
“Man, it’s tough to sit out any game, but especially like that one last week,” Goodwin said. “We could have been the first team in so many years to shut them (New England) out, but we didn’t quite accomplish it. But it was out of my control. If I could’ve played, I would have.”
Goodwin had to watch as the Bills were down to Justin Hunter, Walter Powell and a banged up Robert Woods as the only targets left for Tyrod Taylor at the end of Sunday’s game.
Brandon Tate left with a concussion in the second half, and did not practice on Thursday.
With Percy Harvin now on the roster, but still getting into football shape and the Bills not sure if he will suit up on Monday, the Bills are hoping to have Goodwin against a Seattle defense that has only given up five passing touchdowns on the season.
Goodwin is third on the Bills in receiving and leads the team with three receiving touchdowns.
Even with Buffalo’s depth being tested with the receiving unit, Goodwin wouldn’t make excuses..
“As a group, we are just trying to show resiliency fighting through injuries,” Goodwin said. “We have been plagued this year but that’s part of the game and you have to adjust on the fly. Every team deals with injuries in the league.”