Easley, Hogan ready to step into expanded roles


They knew with Robert Woods declared out by the middle of the week that their roles were going to be expanded. That was cemented on Friday after Stevie Johnson was also ruled out for Sunday’s gameagainst the Jets. Marcus Easley and Chris Hogan are now expected to play their largest roles for Buffalo this season at receiver.

"Next man up, step up and go," said Bills head coach Doug Marrone in his weekly radio appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550. "It's a good opportunity. We'll go into the game with four receivers. Marcus Easley will have a little more of a role doing some things. Chris Hogan will have more of a role in it. So those guys have an opportunity and they have to step up and that's what happens in this game."

Easley, who got 11 snaps on offense last week in Pittsburgh, feels it will serve as a nice springboard into this Sunday's game.

"I've played a little bit here and there pretty much all season, but I got a decent amount of playing time last week, so it's a bigger load for Hogan and I and we're next up," he said. "So we've got to step up."

Hogan is expected to handle much of Stevie Johnson's work out of the slot, while Easley is expected to line up outside. For Hogan and Easley having familiarity with the Jets having played them once before this season will be a benefit.

"We played them before so that helps a lot," said Hogan. "We get to go back and look at the previous game and look at all the different looks we're going to be seeing.  I just prepare myself to play a little bit more of a role in the slot if I'm in there."

With Buffalo's offense struggling to score in the red zone of late, Easley could be a valuable size weapon on fades and jump balls as his broad stature could shield the ball from defenders in the end zone.

"I'd love it. It's the money zone," Easley told Buffalobills.com. "(Scott) Chandler is the biggest target we've got. In the receiver room we've got a bunch of fast guys, but smaller guys. With me being the bigger guy in the room I would definitely welcome that opportunity to use my size to make a play."

"I think we've seen some of it in the preseason where he's made some nice catches and done some nice things," said Marrone of Easley. "He has done everything we've asked him to do and he has the ability to make plays and I think we'll look for him to do that on Sunday."

Marrone isn't blind to the fact that the offense is missing it's top two wideouts, and against the number one run defense in football that could mean Buffalo has to lean on their pass game a bit more to keep the chains moving. But Buffalo's head coach is looking for balanced contributions across to board to make up for what's been lost from the lineup.

"I think we need a collective effort from everyone," said Marrone. "And EJ is a guy who does spread the ball around. So when he turns and he looks and the opportunity presents itself with the coverage and the matchup we're really going to need those guys to make a play."

Any concerns about the less experienced receivers having any nerves on Sunday can be quashed. According to Hogan, if anything, they're still a little agitated about how the first meeting with the Jets went down.

"I think we're looking forward to playing these guys again," Hogan said. "We've got a little bitter taste in our mouths from the first time we saw them, so we're definitely looking forward to seeing these guys at home and playing them again." 

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