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How the Bills are preparing for a fast & physical Dolphins team


The Bills have had full practices Wednesday and Thursday this week as they prepare to host the undefeated Dolphins this Sunday in a highly-anticipated matchup.

On Thursday, safety Micah Hyde, edge rusher Leonard Floyd, tackle Ryan Bates and corner Taron Johnson all returned to practice. Safety Jordan Poyer (knee) and long-snapper Reid Ferguson (wrist) did not practice.

Here's what to know from the Bills' week of preparation.

Bills offense 'locked in' on details in practice

Buffalo's first home division game is circled on the calendar every season and is always a frenzied day in Western New York. Going into the year, it was a given that there'd be an ample amount of hype knowing the Dolphins would be the first AFC East team coming to town.

Now, the anticipation has only grown with Buffalo's 2-1 start and Miami's 3-0 start, including a historic 70-20 win for the Dolphins in Week 3. 

"You always want to win your in-division games," QB Josh Allen said this week. "It's a team that we play twice a year. I know it means a lot for the fans and their fans, our fans, whatever it means for standings, this and that. At the end of the day, it's Week 4. They all mean the same for us."

Allen is 5-0 at home against the Dolphins in his career, but one new wrinkle this year is going up against Miami's new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Typically, a Fangio-coached defense deploys a two-high safety look, meaning both safeties play deeper in coverage than normal in order to take away big plays down the field.

"He's going to force us to be methodical," Allen said. "The shots down the field aren't always there. So again, taking what's given. And then a big emphasis is the red zone. (Fangio) has always been very, very good in the league when he gets inside the 20 — making sure his defense is locked down."

Bills WR Stefon Diggs noticed that under their new coordinator, Miami likes to switch up its coverage looks more so than in year's past, noting Fangio "runs it a little differently" than the Dolphins have previously.

Last season, Diggs was held to under 100 yards in both regular season games but exploded in the Wild Card matchup in January with 7 catches for 114 yards.

"We went over the tape today as far as coverages and stuff that they like to play," he said Thursday after practice. "It's gonna be key to just be at your spot as a receiver, be at your spot, be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there. And then you gotta make the play on the ball, of course."

Through three games this season, Allen and the Bills offense as a whole has shown they are willing to be patient and take what's given to them. Buffalo ranks 22nd in receptions of 20+ yards, yet is 2nd in scoring (30.33 ppg), 1st in third-down conversion rate (51.2%) and 3rd in time of possession (35:45). 

Knowing they won't be on the field at the same time as Miami's potent attack, Allen shared that the team's offense isn't changing its approach. Whether Sunday's matchup turns into a shootout or a defensive slugfest, the preparation and game planning remains the same.

"We just kind of focus on what we have to do, not really focused on external factors or what other people are saying," the Bills QB said.

"Whether we're playing them or anybody else in the league, every time we get on the field, it's our job as an offense to put the ball in the end zone. Really, there's no added emphasis because we already have that type of mindset."

How Bills D is preparing for Miami's burst

It'd be a difficult task — perhaps impossible  — to find an NFL roster that has as much speed on offense as the Dolphins. The six fastest speeds reached by an offensive player this season have all come from Miami.

WR Tyreek Hill, along with RBs Raheem Mostert and De'Von Achane have all been clocked at over 21.6 mph with the ball in their hands this season. And the Dolphins will welcome back WR Jaylen Waddle (concussion) this week; he reached 21.68 mph on a touchdown in 2022.

"They're all as advertised. I mean, they're explosive, anybody that touches the ball can score," McDermott said. 

During this week of practice, the Bills are using all the tricks they can to try to replicate the movement they'll see on Sunday.

"If you can get a couple Usain Bolts and we'll bring them in," McDermott joked.

While Bolt isn't available for a week-long trip to Buffalo, McDermott did go on to explain that the Bills' scout team will be an important part of practice.

"The scout team, they've got to play as fast as they can play," McDermott shared. "We'll try and give them a rest as much as we can in between reps because there's only so many guys to go around to run as fast as we need them to run. Just to simulate that speed, it's unique."

One of those players include practice squad WR Andy Isabella who ran a 4.31 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine in 2019.

Isabella, a 5-foot-9, 190-pound receiver, told reporters that he has been wearing Tyreek Hill's No. 10 in practice. 

"I want to get these guys better. I want to give them the best look so when it comes game day, we have the same results we've had the last two weeks," Isabella said.

Scroll for the best photos from Wednesday's practice on Sept. 27 as the Bills get ready to host the Miami Dolphins.

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