In Week 12, Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt had no troubles bull-dozing past his way past New Orleans Saints right tackle Zach Strief. The Texans pass-rushing nightmare sacked Saints quarterback Drew Brees twice, and at one point yelled to the Saints coaching staff that they "might want to try somebody else at right tackle." In Week 13, the Bills might be rolling out a new right tackle of their own in Jordan Mills.
Buffalo starting right tackle Seantrel Henderson missed Wednesday and Thursday's practice due to illness. Head coach Rex Ryan isn't counting Henderson out yet, but is concerned about his availability for Sunday. If he can't go stepping in for him will be Mills. If he has to start on Sunday he isn't worried. Mills concedes that Watt is a great player, but trusts in his coaches, his teammates, and his preparation.
"Obviously, he's a great player, one of the best defensive players in the league. I'm just getting myself prepared, doing what I regularly do throughout the week," said Mills, who has 29 starts in his NFL career. "He does multiple things, so you have to multiple tricks in your bag to get the job done. It's just studying him as much as I can and getting good work in."
And as far as the trash talk is concerned, Mills isn't concerning himself with that aspect of the game.
"It's his mouth. He can talk all he wants to. [As long as] we as a unit get our job done and I get my job done, it doesn't matter how much he talks," he said."
Mills was signed by the Bills on October 20. Despite the fact that he is the newest member of the starting unit, Mills' veteran linemates have confidence in him.
"He'll do fine," said center Eric Wood. "Jordan is a guy who has worked extremely hard since he got here. He has great technique. He's really smart. [Neither] the moment nor the matchup will be too big for him."
"He has the right mindset," said Richie Incognito. "He's putting in the work right now during the week, and getting prepared to have a big game."
The Texans, though, won't limit Watt to lining up in front of Mills. Watt lines up primarily on the right side of the defensive formation, but Houston defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will line him up almost anywhere on the field to try to keep the offensive line off balance. Sometimes he even lets Watt use his own judgment.
"It's very much a combination of scheme and free reign," said Watt, who has missed two days of practice himself with a groin injury, but is expected to play Sunday. "In some schemes, some plays I'm lining up in certain positions, and in some plays I'm choosing where I line up. It's a nice combination. It's very unique that I have such trust in Coach Romeo and he has trust in me that we have that relationship where we can do something like that."
Watt's ability to rush the passer from a variety of locations allows him to be exceptionally dangerous as a rusher, but what makes the Texans defense—tied for 10th in the NFL with 29 sacks—an even bigger challenge for the Bills offensive line is that they have more weapons than just fifth-year Pro Bowler from Wisconsin.
"This team is more than just him," said Bills head coach Rex Ryan of Watt and the Texans. "It's a big challenge for us. Obviously, they're playing extremely well on defense."
Mills knows their offensive line can't focus so much on Watt that they neglect the playmaking ability of their other defensive linemen and pass rushing linebackers.
"(Jadeveon) Clowney is J.J. Watt Jr," Mills said. "He's an up-and-coming pass-rusher in this league, and they have Brian Cushing, one of the best inside linebackers in this game. They have great outside rushers. They have a good mixture of guys, and you can't forget about big Vince Wilfork holding down the middle, so they have a good mixture of guys moving around, but all we have to do is stick to our game plan, prepare and do our technique, and we should be fine."
What the game plan will be remains to be seen on Sunday. Incognito said that although the challenge is great, the plan is simple.
"We just have to block them up," he said.