Clay unlikely to play ThursdayBills TE Charles Clay is still on the mend from knee surgery about three weeks ago. Though Clay was spotted at practice late last week he was just doing some things on his own on the side. Head coach Sean McDermott wasn't optimistic that this would be the week that the tight end returns to the lineup.
"Charles is going to have a hard time making it this week," said McDermott.
Meanwhile CB E.J. Gaines, S Jordan Poyer and LB Ramon Humber are day to day with Tuesday's practice expected to reveal a lot about whether any of those players have a chance to be in the lineup against the Jets on Thursday night.
Pass defense looking to tighten upAs exciting and game changing as Buffalo's takeaways on defense have been the last few weeks, they have surrendered a good deal of pass yardage. The Bills have given up more than 300 yards passing in three straight games to quarterbacks Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston and Derek Carr.
Along with that, five of the last seven touchdowns allowed by the Bills have been of the passing variety too. Buffalo's defenders know they've got to tighten things up in the pass game and not rely solely on turnovers to bail them out and stop drives.
"We've faced some good quarterbacks also," said McDermott. "This is a challenging schedule in that regard with elite quarterbacks just about every week. This week is no different with Josh McCown and what he's been able to do. He's a good quarterback and a veteran quarterback who has won a lot of games."
Before you snicker, McCown is second in the league in completion percentage (70.5%), just a tenth of a point behind Drew Brees (70.6%) and has eight touchdowns with just two interceptions.
And Mr. Brees is coming to Buffalo the following week followed by a road date with Philip Rivers in Los Angeles. The week after that it's the quarterback who is leading the league in passer rating in Alex Smith before a home game against Tom Brady.
DiMarco's role increasing in run game?Pat DiMarco saw some of his most extensive playing time this past week. The Bills blocking back got 28 snaps on offense for 41 percent of the plays run on that side of the ball. His 30 snaps in Week 4 at Atlanta is the only game where he's seen more time. And Sunday may have been one of his more impressive performances this season.
DiMarco effectively chipped on Oakland pass rusher Khalil Mack to help Cordy Glenn and Jordan Mills, but his biggest impact came in the run game. LeSean McCoy didn't always follow DiMarco into the hole, but when he did he benefited with some of his more effective carries on the day.
Some of his best blocks came on the team's longest drive of the game last Sunday when they went 80 yards on 12 plays.
DiMarco was a problem for Oakland LB Kory James all day, whether he was digging him out of the hole or sealing him to allow McCoy to run off his rear end, the Bills fullback had a day.
"I'll mention Pat DiMarco," said McDermott when asked about the team's run game resurgence. "Kind of an unsung, non-household name if you will, that is so important to our run game, so important to this football team, so important to me as well. What he does for us on the field and off the field also. He's a servant in the way he approaches his life and a servant on the field. Mike Tolbert, LeSean [McCoy], Taiwan [Jones], they don't get the yards without Pat DiMarco and that offensive line."
Some of his best blocks came on a McCoy 18-yard carry when DiMarco locked out James to leave a running lane behind him. He also was routinely involved in run plays that netted six to eight yards by McCoy as Buffalo ran more two back, two tight end sets in the second half.