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Bills Today: Right tackle by committee?


Here's the Bills news of note for Nov. 18th.

1 - Right tackle by committee?
Seantrel Henderson continuing his comeback from an undisclosed medical condition along with Jordan Mills' struggles over the last three games has opened up a competition at right tackle.

Henderson was Buffalo's starter for the entire 2014 season and for 10 games last year before injuries and the disease sidelined him. Due to his condition, Henderson's weight dropped from 340 pounds last year to just over 300 pounds this season. According to offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn, however, Henderson has put weight back on steadily.

"That's a little bit of a concern because sometimes he looks like a little man playing in a big man's body," Lynn said. "But he is busting his tail to get back. He's trying to get his weight back up. He was at 306 last week, so he's on track, so I'm just looking forward to getting him out on the field and playing again."

Also in the mix is Cyrus Kouandijo. Kouandijo has already started two games this season on the other side of the line, and has appeared in 16 games for the Bills over the past two seasons. The 2014 second round selection from Alabama has just as much of a chance to play as Henderson and Mills, according to Lynn.

"Jordan Mills, he's one of the most professional guys on the offensive line," Lynn said. "He's getting it done. We just feel like we want to look at some other people at that position. Kouandjio is also in the mix. We'll see in the game who plays the best."

Mills has struggled against the linebackers he's been matched up with over the last couple of games, which has forced Tyrod Taylor to get rid of the ball before he is ready to or not getting rid of it at all.

Taylor has been sacked 10 times over the last three games, including five against Seattle.

Lynn added that a decision on who starts the game would be made after practice on Friday, but it is also entirely possible that all three linemen see time in the game unless somebody is able to stand out.

"It doesn't matter if I'm playing running back, tackles or receivers, the hot man stays in," Lynn said.

2 - Praise for Taylor
Many thought that Tyrod Taylor's performance against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9 was the best he's looked in a Bills uniform. Count ESPN analyst John Clayton in that group.

In an interview on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550, Clayton said that he talked with several Seattle defenders who were effusive in their praise of Taylor.

"If there's any debate--and this is from the Seahawk players--about the quarterbacking future of Tyrod Taylor, stop," Clayton said. "They said that he was as hard to handle as a running quarterback as anything they've ever seen. I mean they just raved about him. They said he was a supreme challenge, he's good and he's gained their respect." Taylor threw for 289 yards with a touchdown, and ran for 43 more, including a three-yard touchdown on the team's first offensive play.

Even more promising for the Bills, was Taylor's elusiveness in the pocket and ability to make tight throws, which allowed the Bills to stay in the game and almost complete the comeback on the game's final drive.

Clayton said that all of the praise from Seattle's players surprised him a little because of their past comments towards opponents.

"Remember, this is a defense and a team that'll rip you if they don't like you," Clayton said. "If you're Michael Crabtree, if you're Colin Kaepernick, they'll rip you because they will give the honest opinion.

Taylor came up 11 yards short of the first 300-yard passing game of his career, but continues to get better through the air. Last Monday's performance was the third-most passing yards in a game for his career.

When Taylor decides not to throw, he has continued to impress with his legs. Taylor has 362 rushing yards for the season, 101 more than Cam Newton, who is second on the list.

"Hey, this is only Tyrod's second year," Clayton said. "I mean you still need the luxury of letting him grow, and I think he grew a lot in that game against Seattle."

3 - Secondary Update
The battles for starting positions in the secondary continues to stay white-hot. At the open viewing portion of practice on Thursday, Ronald Darby took first-team reps opposite of Stephon Gilmore. Kevon Seymour was at the nickel and Robert Blanton was at free safety. Both defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and Rex Ryan both said that competition for left cornerback and free safety are still very much alive.

At cornerback, Ryan said that Darby's practice on Wednesday was as good as he's ever seen him play. Darby is in danger of losing his starting role to veteran journeyman Corey White.

Thurman also said he has been impressed with the way Darby has handled the competition thus far.

"He's responded well," Thurman said. "You know, that's what it's all about. Everybody has a job to do. You've got to go out there and do your job. I mean to have competition is a good thing. You know, in this league, you don't ever want to ever get comfortable. If you get comfortable, somebody's looking to take your job. When you get comfortable, it's not a good thing."

That feeling has also extended to the safety position opposite of Corey Graham. That position has been in flux since Aaron Williams' season-ending neck injury, with the Bills trying Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks and Blanton at that position.

Blanton has gotten to start the last two games, but missed a few assignments and hasn't always been on the same page as his fellow defensive backs. That has opened the door for Sergio Brown, and newly acquired James Ihedigbo, to try and jump at the opportunity.

"Well I mean first thing's first, losing Aaron hurt obviously," Thurman said. "So we've been searching for the right combination of guys and those guys are working hard. They're studying, they understand what we want to get done back there, so we're going to give them an opportunity."

Despite all of the changes and noise around the secondary, the Bills are 11th in passing yards per game and 13th in points per game.

However, teams haven't had to throw against the Bills much in the second half because of what they've done in the first two quarters of games. The deep ball has been Buffalo's Achilles heel, with the Bills allowing over 50 plays of 20 yards or more, and seven of 50 or more.

That is one of the reasons many people pointed to as to why the 5-8 Nickell Robey-Coleman was a candidate to lose his job to a much taller Seymour. Thurman said that it's not all about size in the secondary, and that as soon as his guys go back to fundamentals, the results will be different.

"I wasn't very tall either," Thurman said. "So it's about playing the ball. If you can play the ball, you can play the ball. You know, no one wants to give up the long ball. It's one of the cardinal sins of playing back there. So it's about understanding what your job is, using proper technique, and playing the ball when it's in the air."

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