Hours before Pro Bowl selections were announced Monday, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier reached out to safety Jordan Poyer to remind him of the vital role he has played in the team's success.
The Bills had five players named to the Pro Bowl roster, which will be recognized with a series of virtual events this season in lieu of a game. Poyer, the team's leading tackler, was not one of them.
"I reached out to him today and just expressed that, how much I appreciate what he brings to our defense both as a player on the field but a leader in the locker room and at practice as well," Frazier said.
"He's had a terrific season and one that's deserving of accolades and hopefully people will begin to recognize it on the outside and give him the kudos that he deserves. He's a heck of a safety, one of the premier safeties in our game."
In the AFC, Pittsburgh's Minkah Fitzpatrick, Kansas City's Tyrann Mathieu and Denver's Justin Simmons were to the Pro Bowl roster.
Poyer's 112 tackles lead NFL defensive backs and are the most by a Bills defensive back since Corey Graham had 122 in 2015. But even that doesn't fully speak to the safety's versatility.
Poyer, a team captain, has accumulated 69 solo tackles, four quarterback hits, two interceptions, and 2.0 sacks. He is the only player in the NFL with that stat line, according to radar360. In fact, only three other safeties have hit each of those numbers in a single season since 2006.
"He's one of those guys who is kind of under the radar," Frazier said. "I was talking with some TV broadcasters. We were doing a pregame conversation and they were asking about some of the key players on our defense. Jordan is right up there with anybody on our defense."
The Bills trust Poyer in a variety of roles, whether he is defending in coverage or lining up in the box. He is credited with 140 blitzes, ninth among safeties according to Radar360. His safety partner, Micah Hyde, campaigned for Poyer's selection early in December.
"He's all over the field, he can do it all," Hyde said. "Hasn't been getting the recognition that he deserves. I know you guys are probably tired of hearing that, but that's been the case since we got here. You know, Po has been playing lights out for us.
"He can rush the quarterback. He can tackle. He can cover. He can do it all for us. It's good to see that he's finally getting the recognition. He's been a Pro Bowl player for us the last few years. He better get it this year. I don't see how – there's no way in my mind that he cannot get it this year just because of what he's been able to do."
Sean McDermott used the same words as Hyde to describe Poyer's consistent work ethic: "addicted to the grind." The head coach also predicted that some of his deserving players would not be recognized Monday, echoing Frazier's point.
"I'm being biased with this, but to me we've got more than the guys who are probably going to be recognized," McDermott said. "I just have a great affinity for our guys, and I see what they do, how they play and I think at the end of the day, some of it is a result of team success as well. All good recognition, all good to see."
Now, onto more notes after hearing from the head coach and coordinators on Monday.
Frazier praises Oliver's game
Another player who has flown under the radar this season is Ed Oliver, who registered his third sack of the season against the Broncos on Saturday.
Frazier has been consistent in his praise of the second-year defensive tackle, who has been asked at times this season to eat up blockers at the one-technique position.
"Although he may not have the statistics to show how disruptive he's been for our defense, he's played really well throughout the season," Frazier said. "The splash plays haven't been there, but that's not because he hasn't given the effort. The effort that we saw on Saturday was the Ed Oliver we've seen throughout the season.
"He was disruptive again, hard to block one on one, and happy that he was able to get that sack. But he's been so close so many times during the course of the year. Those sacks sometimes come in bunches and we expect to see more of that. But it's not for a lack of effort or his not maturing as a player."
Murphy embraces his role
Trent Murphy was pictured on the sideline Saturday waving his jacket as his teammates inched toward their division-clinching victory over the Broncos. Frazier complimented the veteran defensive end for his team-first attitude despite being inactive since the bye week.
"It is extremely difficult when you've got some skins on the wall and you've had success in our league," Frazier said. "But Trent has been terrific throughout this whole process. Went up to him after we clinched on Saturday and just gave him a big hug and just told him how much I appreciate his attitude and the way he's handled this entire matter.
"He knows how this business works. He knows that in a snap of a finger he could … be having to go out and help us win games. So, he's staying on the ready, preparing like he always has, like a pro. But his attitude has always been great."
McDermott on injuries
McDermott wanted to wait until the Bills take the field for practice on Wednesday before providing any firm updates, but his initial report on Stefon Diggs – who sustained a foot injury late during Saturday's game – was optimistic.
"The reports I've gotten to this point are not overly worrisome," he said. "Like with Stef and the other guys in that classification, we have some guys with nicks and bumps and bruises and things, they're sore. In fairness to you guys and trying to give you better clarity, I don't have great clarity yet because we're not taking the field tomorrow."
McDermott followed his own 24-hour rule when asked about congratulatory messages he received after earning the division title.
"Let's get back to work," he said. "Because that's really what you have to do, you have to get back to work and move on. There's a lot of people that have said things. Now we have to reset and get ourselves back to work, move on and continue to grow and get better.
"Again, it comes back to the process and really loving the pursuit of what is out there and being passionate about the chase. We have guys that love football and love to compete. That's the foundation of it, really."