With a first year head coach, you generally will notice a lot of different players getting on the field, trying to see what combinations work the best. One key area that the Bills have struggled with this season is run defense. Chan Gailey knows how great a running team the Baltimore Ravens are and how important stopping the run is to the overall success of the team.
"If you don't stop the run, you are not going to win very many football games," Gailey said. "I know that. So, we've got to continue to try to get that done. You're always tweaking. You are always using different types of either personnel groupings or different fronts-different schemes to try to get better. As I said earlier, we are still trying to find the right combination and the right way to go about playing run defense. We haven't found it yet."
One player who is starting to get more playing time is rookie nose tackle Torell Troup in Buffalo's heavier four-man front, which was employed extensively against Jacksonville in Week 5. The second-round pick is one of the stoutest guys on the Bills, listed at 6'3" and 315 lbs. Drafted primarily to be a run stopper, Buffalo's defensive staff is hoping his insertion into the lineup will help a run defense that ranks last in the NFL.
"Honestly it might help out a little bit more," said Troup. "Instead of another linebacker in there taking on two linemen, it is me in there. I am built a little better to do that than a linebacker. It makes the linebackers job a little easier, makes them more able to penetrate the gaps."
Troup is aware of the teams' struggles on run defense and he was happy the coaching staff was confident enough in him to give him substantial playing time.
"It really makes me feel good to be able to help the team in any way possible," said Troup. "We went a little heavier against Jacksonville and I got a lot more opportunities being on the field from the first snap to the last snap is definitely a lot different than jumping in and out so I was able to get into a rhythm and get the feeling of the game."
With the heavier front Troup was playing alongside veteran Kyle Williams, the player he has typically rotated in for when Buffalo utilizes their traditional 3-4 front. Troup however, made sure he was familiar with both his role as well as Williams heading into the Jacksonville game.
"We were talking about it all week during practice," said Troup. "I knew what he was going to do and what I had to do. He was going to get up field and try to make plays and I was trying to close the backside 'A' gap. We have to work on cutting the plays down on the back hand side."
Even though he is improving his game and contributing more, he in no way feels he's arrived as an NFL player.
"Me personally I have a lot of work to do," he said. "I did some good things in the last game, but I have the little things to work on. To be a good professional you have to work on the little things and I have a lot of little things to work at to become very good at my position. So I'm just taking it one day at a time trying to perfect it."
"We're trying to help him as much as we can to recognize things," said Kyle Williams. "He's good about asking questions and as you play more and you get more experience you start to pick up things and get a better feel for things. So when he has a better handle on what offenses are trying to do to him he can speed his game up a lot more. He's getting more and more comfortable."
The Bills will need to stop the run on Sunday against a team that loves the run the ball. The Ravens are ranked third in the league in rushing attempts per game.
Troup feels that in order to contain the Ravens offense, it is a simple matter of executing and making plays.
"We need to collapse the gaps inside and allow our linebackers to make plays," Troup said. "The defensive line, when we have the opportunity, we need to make plays. Coach has talked a lot about when your opportunity comes you need to make the play. We are trying to do that, we are trying to play faster so we can have success."
Though Troup isn't sure how much the defensive staff will make use of the heavier front week to week moving forward, he vows to be ready to handle the added responsibility he has in the 4-3 look.
"I'm just going to see what the coaches decide to do," he said. "If we do (go heavy) I'm ready. If not, I know my role and what I have to do."