Here's the news of note for Nov. 15th.
1 - Starting jobs up for grabs this weekAt 4-5 on the season and losers of three in a row, Buffalo's coaching staff took a hard look at what has led to the inconsistencies on defense. Their collective conclusion has led them to open competition at certain positions on that side of the ball in an effort to get better week to week performance.
"We're going to have competition in a lot of different spots this week and give guys opportunities to earn starting nods," said head coach Rex Ryan.
Veteran Lorenzo Alexander has seen coaches turn to lineup changes to try to spark more consistent play. With where the team sits right now, the pass rusher is not surprised by the decision of the coaches.
"That's what happens," he said. "I think we have guys that can play and it comes down to opportunity. Just like myself. If I hadn't had that opportunity I wouldn't have been able to showcase my abilities. When guys aren't performing and you have talented guys that you've brought in and you know what they're capable of you want to give those guys the same opportunity that you may have given a starter who may not be showing up. That's part of being in the NFL."
One such player is CB Corey White. Signed in the offseason, White split first team reps at left cornerback with starter Ronald Darby. Darby was replaced by White in the lineup late in the first half in the Monday night loss at Seattle, though Ryan attributed Darby's performance to illness.
"I haven't been a starter since I was in New Orleans (2014)," White said. "I feel good. I'm looking forward to this week and the challenges. Right now I'm just going to stay focused mentally studying these guys and we'll see what happens."
Other players who could be pushed for their starting role include Robert Blanton, as Jonathan Meeks and Duke Williams saw time at safety, and on offense starting right tackle Jordan Mills will be pushed by a healthy Seantrel Henderson.
"We'll let it play out," said Ryan. "In the secondary there'll be competition, maybe the offensive line, but we have to do what's best for our football team regardless of maybe where we thought. Let's do what's best. Whoever's playing best will be out there."
2 - Dareus still battling backIt's been a season of frustration for Marcell Dareus with injuries and with Bills fans hoping to see a lot more of him on the field. Dareus was on the practice field Monday, but participated only in stretch and work on the side. He did not do any team work.
"I did some stuff on the field, stretched with the team. Did some agility drills, and just getting the engine going and keeping it warm," Dareus said. "It felt pretty good. Just still trying to work out the kinks. I don't want to go out there and hurt myself worse and then be out for the season."
Dareus stayed in Buffalo throughout the bye week getting treatment on both his injured groin and recovering hamstring.
"I worked with our guys hand in hand to try to be as healthy as possible when we got back," he said.
"Marcell is progressing nicely," said Ryan. "We'll see how it progresses but our trainers seem to be pleased with him, how he's progressing."
So what is his outlook for Sunday's game at Cincinnati?
"We'll see," he said. "We'll see."
3 - One week approachThe big picture for the Bills and a lot of other AFC teams is to try to get to at least 10 wins to have a shot at the postseason. And while Rex Ryan doesn't shy away from that fact, he doesn't believe it should even be part of the conversation for his team at this point in the season.
"That's always been the number that you put out there, that generally 10 (wins) gets you in," said Ryan. "It's not all the time, but generally that's what happens. With us our focus has to be on Cincinnati, and that's it. You can't worry about getting to 10 wins. Shoot, we have to worry about getting five wins so I think that's where we have to look at. We haven't earned the right to think about anything further than that."
"I've been on a team that's won 10 games and didn't get in," said Lorenzo Alexander. "I've seen a team win 11 games and not get in as well. For us it's week to week. Not looking too far ahead. We have a hard road putting ourselves in a situation. If you look at the big picture we'd almost have to win out to have a real shot. But our coaches and our guys do a good job of compartmentalizing each week, just focus on that opponent. Because when you start looking down the road you can easily get beat, which we have had happen to us a couple of times this year. So hopefully we've learned from that."