*Benjamin, Gaines won’t practice *It probably doesn’t come as any surprise, but Kelvin Benjamin and E.J. Gaines are among the players who will not practice at One Bills Drive on Wednesday.
Benjamin has been held out or limited in Wednesday practices since aggravating the torn meniscus in his knee against the Colts in Week 14. Head coach Sean McDermott was quick to praise the intestinal fortitude of his big receiver.
“Kelvin continues to work through his knee. He’s a tough dude,” McDermott said. “He’s toughed it out. He’s mentally as well as physically tough. He continues to work through that.”
Benjamin, who came through last week’s game no worse for wear is expected to be good to go on Sunday in New England.
Gaines’ situation is a bit more unclear. After leaving last Sunday’s game with a knee injury, McDermott didn’t have much in the way of an update Wednesday morning.
“E.J. is day to day,” he said. “He will not practice today.”
If Gaines can’t get on the practice field, veteran Shareece Wright, who had an interception last week just two plays after stepping in for Gaines, would likely start in his place. Lafayette Pitts is another option for the defensive staff.
Other players not practicing on Wednesday include Andre Holmes (neck), Nick O’Leary (back) and Kyle Williams (groin).
*No moral victories *As the Bills prepare for their rematch with the Patriots, it’s hard not to recognize that Buffalo’s defense did do some good things. They were the first defense this season to hold New England’s offense to less than 13 points in the first half of a game.
Despite slowing down the Patriots attack, they didn’t get the win, losing by 20 as their own offense struggled far more than New England’s, managing just a field goal.
“Not good enough,” said McDermott flatly after being asked if he was encouraged by some of what they were able to accomplish against Tom Brady and company. “We’ve got a lot to learn from not only that game, but from last week. We’ve got to continue to improve and get better.”
Buffalo’s defense has been good at disguising coverages all season and appeared to cause even Brady to hesitate at times in the passing game. That still wasn’t good enough for McDermott.
“We lost the game. It’s about winning and losing. It’s about winning football games,” he said. “That’s what we’re here to do. We’re not here for moral victories. He’s a phenomenal player. The best ever. You’ve heard me say before, they’re defending world champions.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got to make sure we make proper adjustments throughout the game. We did some good things in the game. I don’t want to look past that. We did some good things, but we’re here to win the game. That’s what we’re working to do.”
*Richie brings the grit *Coach McDermott has leaned heavily on his veteran leaders in the locker room to help mold the culture of the team that caters to sustained success. That culture requires a lot of elements. From Kyle Williams ability to motivate, to Eric Wood’s commitment to Lorenzo Alexander’s work ethic to Stephen Hauschka’s routine, all have played a role in showing the younger players what it takes to succeed in the NFL individually. Those men have also helped McDermott in shaping the approach collectively to becoming a successful, winning team.
Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito has a work ethic and commitment every bit as good as the aforementioned veterans, but there was one area of Incognito’s game that McDermott wanted him to exemplify for his team.
“The veteran leadership has been important,” said McDermott. “You’ve heard me talk about that at length with Kyle [Williams], Eric [Wood], Lorenzo [Alexander], and a number of other players, [Stephen] Hauschka. Those guys mean a lot to me, because of what they do Monday through Saturday. Then on the field what they do obviously with the skill set.
“But the grit that Richie [Incognito] brings to the table. I feel that was important for us to establish in our first year here being a resilient football team. I think you’ve seen that throughout our year so far. He’s been a big part of it.”
Check out photos of the Buffalo Bills, as they prepare to take on the New England Patriots Week 16.