Boobie Dixon is gone for a few weeks with a pulled calf muscle. LeSean McCoy is nursing a toe injury that might that could keep him limited the rest of the week. Suddenly 40 percent of Buffalo's running back contingent is on the shelf leaving the rushing load to a wily vet, an untested backup and a rookie.
The Bills were seen as having one of the deepest running back collections in the league, but for the time being it'll be Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown and Karlos Williams carrying the football at training camp.
On Wednesday Jackson and Brown worked mainly with the starting unit while Williams got almost all the work with the second team. Return man Marcus Thigpen got a few rushes to give the rookie a break. For Williams it's an opportunity to not only showcase his rushing talent, but get into a rhythm with the offense.
"Got a ton of work, got some great reps," said Williams following Wednesday's practice. "It's a great day for me. The more reps a back can get, especially a young back, the better feel you have for the game. The more reps I get against live action the better it's going to be."
Williams was drafted by the Bills with a double role in mind. He's largely expected to do more on special teams as a rookie than as a rusher.
"I don't think we've seen all of him yet because I think he's going to be a big contributor on special teams for us," said head coach Rex Ryan. "We kind of brought him in to be a running back/special teams guy. He was probably the best special teams player in the ACC. He was a two-time captain of Florida State's special teams. So we expect him to make huge contributions on special teams as well as offense."
For Brown, he doesn't have the special teams background, but it hasn't dissuaded the coaching staff from making use of him on special teams at times. The one thing Ryan was keeping a watchful eye on was Brown's ball security as he was aware of the back's fumbling issues as a younger player.
"He hasn't laid any on the carpet yet, so he's been doing a nice job," said Ryan. "I think (running backs coach) Anthony Lynn is as good a coach as there is at teaching ball security and that's going to help Bryce. He came back in great shape, so he's certainly got an opportunity here and it's good to see. I see him, he looks like he's got that explosive speed still and ball security has not been an issue."
Brown has seen some time here and there on special teams and it might behoove him to ask for more work in that phase of the game in light of the importance that Ryan puts on it when it comes to making final roster decisions.
"It certainly helps your cause," said Ryan. "The more you can do to contribute to this football team, whether it's on special teams or whatever, that can give players a leg up. The special teams play a very big part the evaluation stage and putting your best team together."
Fred Jackson will have a role on the team this season per Ryan, though at this point he's not sure what role it would be. Jackson has special teams duties as well primarily as a punt returner with Leodis McKelvin sidelined.
With just three healthy backs the possibility does exist for the Bills to bring in another running back so as not to overload Brown, Jackson and Williams knowing the team runs a pair of 11-on-11 segments simultaneously.