This was a scenario Bills head coach Doug Marrone was hoping would not come to pass. Losing one of his top two ball carriers in his offensive backfield to injury was something he may have mentally prepared himself for, but to lose both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in less than a quarter of game action is about as uncommon as it gets. Fortunately Buffalo has reinforcements.
Boobie Dixon (No. 26) and Bryce Brown (35) were acquired by the team in the offseason to upgrade the depth behind Jackson and Spiller, after watching both of them hobble through the last 11 games of the 2013 season. With both players out for the foreseeable future Brown and Dixon are adamant they are ready to shoulder the rushing load.
"My main thing really is to get in learn the game plan and pick up where those guys left off," said Brown. "It's unfortunate that they went down and suffered injuries, but that's why we compete in our room and have guys that can come in and take up where they left off."
"I'm very excited," said Dixon. "It's one thing I've been waiting on my whole life. I feel like I'm a workhorse and I'm just excited for the opportunity."
Dixon stepped in on Sunday when both backs exited in the first half and finished with 51 yards on 13 carries (3.9 avg.). He also caught three passes for 15 yards. Though Dixon has played a role before this season, the challenge Sunday was being put in situations where Jackson and Spiller got all the reps during the week leading up to the game.
"Some of those plays in the game I didn't even get a chance to rep," Dixon said. "I just kind of got thrown out there. But this week I'll get the reps and I'll be in tune with what we're doing."
Head coach Doug Marrone and his offensive staff will be putting the game plan together on Tuesday when concrete decisions will be made as to how to go about using both of the backs this Sunday at New York.
"We'll see what gives us the best opportunity and then we'll watch them in practice," said Marrone Monday. "I think we have a good feel for what Boobie can do in games. Bryce we have a good feel for what he can do in practice and a little feel for what he's able to accomplish in games. So we'll just see game plan-wise what we need and how the week goes. And then we'll start seeing really how to attack (the Jets), and once the game goes if something is working better we'll stick with that."
Brown has yet to appear in a regular season game for the Bills. He's been a healthy inactive each of the first seven weeks.
Brown admits there may be a bit of rust to knock off having not had a live game carry since the preseason, but the former Eagle feels he has been readying himself each and every week.
"I think for the most part I've been preparing," said Brown. "That's one thing the coaches have said to me. Yeah I'm in a tough situation, but continue to prepare because it's a long season and you don't know what's going to happen. I've continued to do that. It'll really be the first time I'm going out there playing this year in a regular season game. I'm sure I'll be fine. It's not something I haven't done before."
"Obviously he's quick. He can make people miss. He's good in the passing game. He can hit all the different holes and make all the runs," said Marrone. "So I'm very happy with him and that's the reason why he's here, in case something happened he'll be able to step on the field. It's a chance for him and he's been waiting for it. So that's a good sign."
On the flip side Brown will bring an advantage into Sunday's game. Having not played a down or taken a hit through the first seven weeks of the season, his legs will be much fresher than anyone else on the field Sunday.
"That's definitely an advantage, obviously feeling fresh and not really taking any hits or taking on a load," said Brown. "You could look at that as an advantage."
One of the key areas where Brown or Dixon will need to have everything down to the letter will be on third down in pass protection, a role solely occupied by Jackson prior to this week. At this point it's unclear who will be handed that responsibility though Dixon did it Sunday.
"I think that's something that I personally will have to spend a little more time on this week learning and understanding just because I haven't had the chance to rep it as much not playing," Brown admitted. "As far as pass protection and recognizing defenses and picking up blitzes that's not something I'm uncomfortable doing. I've done it before and it shouldn't be an issue."
Both Brown and Dixon hold a lot of respect for Jackson and Spiller. They've appreciated the way the two backs welcomed them in as new players on the roster this offseason, and helped them pick up the offensive scheme. They're well aware that the production in the run game can't suffer a drop off and it's on them to keep the offense balanced.
"A lot of my teammates on this team tell me that they feed off my style," said Dixon. "They feed off my energy. They feed off me running hard and that's why I came here to be a spark for this team and help this team get to the playoffs."
"I told them I'm going to go out there and I'm going to play for them," said Brown of his conversation with Jackson and Spiller. "I'm going to do my very best and I won't let them down. This year is important for both of them, so now it's up on me and Boobie and I won't let those guys down."