When the media scrum thronged around running back Boobie Dixon, linebacker Preston Brown began to tease his offensive teammate from across the locker room, loudly questioning why so many reporters would want to talk to the energetic and bullish ball-carrier.
"It's because I'm moving to middle linebacker," Dixon fired back. "We have to start stopping some people."
Dixon laughed the same laugh that can be heard every day before and after practice. The playful running back is always laughing, always affectionately chirping.
While he's not making such a drastic position switch as to move to middle linebacker, his role may undergo a significant change in the days before the Bills Week Five game versus the Tennessee Titans. Even though the Bills overhauled their running game this offseason, replacing CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson with LeSean McCoy and rookie Karlos Williams, Dixon's familiar face could be a prominent part of the game plan on Sunday.
The reason is mostly circumstantial. The Week One starter, McCoy, has suffered with nagging hamstring injuries all season long and was held out of the Bills Week Four affair with the New York Giants. His status is uncertain for Week Five. Meanwhile, Karlos Williams, who has scored a touchdown each week so far, was concussed in last week's loss. Dixon is the next man up, and head coach Rex Ryan said on Wednesday that he will get the bulk of the carries should McCoy be inactive.
"I would think Boobie would be the main guy," said Ryan. "I think Boobie can be a good back. I think he is a good back and a good special teams player. We'll see how Karlos, who is in the concussion protocol and we'll see about LeSean as the week progresses."
Someone must have told Dixon to "just be yourself" when he was a child, because he knows the key to success in such a situation will be for Boobie to just be Boobie.
"I'm just going to do what I've been putting on tape," he said. "I think Boobie Dixon is good enough. It hasn't gone the way I want it to this year, but I know I'm fully capable of keeping the chains moving and getting us good second downs and good third downs. With coach giving me the lead this week, I feel that support, and I feel that sense of comfortability that I can just go out there and relax and make plays. That's what I'm going to do."
That means to expect the powerful, short-yardage and touchdown specialist, should he be the starter, to bring his thunderous running style to Sunday's game. Now in his sixth season, Dixon has never averaged more than seven carries per game, so the opportunity this week is his first chance to be 'the guy' since his senior year of college in 2009.
"It's been a minute," Dixon said smiling when asked how long it's been since he was the primary ball carrier. "But I'm getting that feeling again. I've been watching some old clips, watching some old runs, just trying to get that good feeling going and trying to keep that positive mindset. I can't wait for Sunday."
Dixon played in at least 11 games each of his four years at Mississippi State, twice bullying his way to more than 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns, including a 5.4 yards per carry average in his fourth season, when he rushed for 1,391 yards in 11 games. He totaled a career-high 14 touchdowns in the 2007 campaign, his sophomore year.
The San Francisco 49ers selected him in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, and he spent four seasons there before joining the Bills last year. The rest of the Bills offense is happy to have him, and they're supporting the brawny, bouncy, veteran back as best they can as he readies for a possible new role.
"Everybody is [pumping me up]," Dixon said. "They're just telling me, 'It's your time. Go out there and show them what you can do.' They fully trust in me to get the job done. They believe in me. I'm feeding off them just like they plan to feed off me, and like I said, man, we're going to get the win. Whether it be good or ugly, we're just going to get the win."