Here's the Bills news of note for Dec. 7th.
1 - Shaq Lawson to start SundayLast Sunday Bills first-round pick appeared in his fifth career game. His 32 snaps were the most he's had in a game since his debut in Week 8 against the Patriots (37). Now that figure will increase as head coach Rex Ryan intends to start the rookie on Sunday against Pittsburgh.
"He's going to play a lot more. He's going to be our starter this week and he's earned it," said Ryan on the Rex Ryan show this week. "He does a great job shedding blocks. This is what we knew about him. I think the time he missed with all of training camp set him back, but you're starting to notice him more and more. This is what we really like about this young man. He plays extremely hard and he's only going to get better."
Lawson sensed such an opportunity might be on the horizon with the added responsibility the defensive staff has been putting on his plate in recent weeks.
"When I first came started playing I had easy packages like pass rushing," Lawson said in an appearance on the John Murphy Show this week. "I feel like each week my role has gone up from the Patriots game on. Each week my role has been expanded with them using me in different packages."
Lawson missed the first seven games of the season as he finished up his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery in May.
Since stepping into the lineup in Week 8, Lawson has posted nine tackles, two sacks, three quarterback hits and three tackles for loss.
"They put me in a lot of positions to make plays," Lawson said. "Standing up, hand on the ground, playing the five (technique), playing true outside linebacker. I feel great in this defense."
2 - Woods looking to return this weekThe injury looked gruesome when it happened. Robert Woods after a reception had his left leg bent backwards underneath him in awkward fashion. It led to a left knee injury that forced him to leave the Week 11 game at Cincinnati three weeks ago. He has since missed each of the last two games against Jacksonville and Oakland. But there appears to be a decent chance that he practices this week and makes a return to the lineup.
"Robert Woods, we'll see how he progresses," said head coach Rex Ryan. "He's doing better, so we'll see what happens there."
Buffalo's receiving corps could certainly use a boost. LeSean McCoy was the team's leading receiver in last week's game with seven catches for 61 yards as Tyrod Taylor failed to eclipse the 200-yard mark passing for the eighth time this season.
Taylor appeared to have the strongest on field rapport with Woods so far this season, so his presence in the lineup could lead to an uptick in pass production. And that will be needed knowing the Bills face the number four ranked passing offense in football on Sunday.
3 - Zach Brown earning breakout recognitionBuffalo's tackle leader from the beginning of the season, LB Zach Brown is getting some recognition. Among the leading vote getters at inside linebacker for the Pro Bowl, Brown stands third in the league in tackles.
That's largely why he was named the breakout player on the Bills roster by FOXSports.com. Here's what they said about Buffalo's tackling machine.
Buffalo Bills - Zach Brown
Brown was a solid player who has turned into a vacuum cleaner in his first year with the Bills. He's third in the NFL in tackles and just as high in bone-crunching hits.
As much as Brown would prefer more victories he is pleased with how the season has played out for him personally.
"Personally my season is going really well," said Brown in a recent appearance on Bills flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. "Playing good and up to my expectations it can't get any better. I've got a great group of guys around me so it's going real good.
"I'm playing to win, but at the same time you have to play for yourself and your pride. Play in a way where I'm seen as one of the best at my position."