He willed the team to victory in his last start at Tennessee, but he hasn't played since. A sprained MCL kept Tyrod Taylor sidelined for each of Buffalo's last two games, both losses. So the collective excitement that Taylor is healthy and ready to start Sunday was palpable in Buffalo's locker room this week.
"It's big, he's obviously the leader of this offense," said Charles Clay of Taylor's return. "Anytime you get a guy like that back who brings a whole other dimension to the offense. Anytime you get a guy like that back it's tough on a defense."
The Miami Dolphins know firsthand. In their first meeting with Buffalo back in Week 3, Taylor was an impressive 21-29 passing for 277 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-14 blowout victory. His 136.7 passer rating in that game is his season high so far.
"It comes down to execution. Across the board, we executed as a team," said Taylor in reference to the Week 3 win. "On offense, we executed and paid attention to the details of the game plan. We went out there and played team ball."
Taylor's rushing exploits were not even on display in that first meeting with Miami. He had just three carries for 12 yards. Bills head coach Rex Ryan gave indication Wednesday that Taylor's full game is on the table for Buffalo's game plan Sunday.
"He's a unique talent, and the fact that he gives you explosiveness as a ball carrier… there's no other added risk. This is as healthy as he's been all season, so I'm excited to see that. I'm excited to see a guy who can run a 4.4 back there at quarterback," said Ryan. "He can make a lot of good throws. He can throw a deep ball with accuracy. He can do a lot of things that will challenge a defense."
As hard as EJ Manuel worked to keep the team's playoff chances afloat, Taylor has played more than twice as much with the starters as his backup this season. That familiarity has value as his teammates see it.
"We worked the most together and we're excited to get him back and see what he can do," said Eric Wood. "It's great having Ty back."
As encouraged as the players are to have their starting quarterback back in the lineup, no one is as anxious to perform as Taylor himself.
"I'm definitely very excited. As a competitor, you never want to miss games. You don't want to miss practices, but you definitely don't want to miss games," said Taylor. "The last couple of weeks I was sitting back there and watching, just eager to get back out there and play healthy. I'm excited about going out there. Plenty of more days of preparation leading up to this game. That's what the focus is on now."
With several other offensive players also healthy and returning to the lineup, Ryan believes those additions will only enhance Taylor's personal game. "I truly believe he can do a lot of special things, especially with the teammates he's surrounded with," said Ryan. "I think he's calm; he's got poise and I think that helps us."