Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that injuries to linebackers Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, Del'Shawn Phillips, and Tyrel Dodson are not considered long-term at this point and that all four players are currently considered day-to-day.
Each of the four linebackers left with injuries prior to the conclusion of Sunday's victory over the New York Jets, beginning when Phillips sustained a quadriceps injury during the first half.
Milano recorded four tackles and an interception before exiting with a hamstring injury during the first half. Edmunds, a team captain and a Pro Bowler last season, sustained a shoulder injury after attempting to tackle wide receiver Jamison Crowder on a play that ended with a Jets a touchdown in the third quarter.
"It was a play that we'd all like back, Tremaine included," McDermott said. "But at the end of the day, we've got to make that tackle. It just looked like he came down on the shoulder a little bit there.'
A.J. Klein and Dodson received more playing time in the wake of the injuries to Milano and Edmunds, with Dodson recording a sack before exiting late in the fourth quarter.
"Tyrel did a terrific job," defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. "That sack that he got on Darnold, I mean, that was a great job of finishing the play. He had great composure and poise during his time out there, so it was encouraging to watch his performance. It really encourages you going forward."
Here are more takeaways from Monday's media sessions with McDermott, Frazier, and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.
Why the Bills utilized Allen on the ground
Josh Allen had a career game in terms of his passing volume, setting personal highs in attempts (46), completions (33), and yards (312). That said, offensive coordinator Brain Daboll still looked to utilize the quarterback's mobility with designed runs throughout the afternoon.
Daboll said that utilizing Allen on the ground was part of the game plan against the Jets, a strategy informed in part by New York's stout run defense and in part by their 42-21 loss to the Baltimore Ravens last season. In that game, quarterback Lamar Jackson rushed for 86 yards.
"The quarterback zone read is an obvious element to our game, particularly I would say last game," Daboll said. "Now, whether it is next week or the week after that, I couldn't tell you. But you go back and play a team like New York who is very, very good at stopping the run, it's just a way to try and get an extra [advantage].
"… That was part of the game plan. It certainly wasn't all of it. We've got to do a good job of trying to take care of the ball when it is in [Allen's] hands and he'll work to do that."
Frazier was asked how facing a mobile quarterback makes game planning difficult on a defense.
"When you have a quarterback who's mobile and can throw the ball from the pocket as well but yet can still be accurate outside of the pocket, that presents problems for a defense," he said. "You have to come up with a little different plan than you would for a pocket passer, a guy who you kind of know where he's going to be at all times. So, you'd much prefer to find a guy who's a statue back there and he's in one spot, put together your plan around that."
Evaluating the offensive line
One questioned that lingered entering the game Sunday was who the Bills would rely upon on the right side of the offensive line. McDermott had said he wanted to utilize a consistent five-man unit as opposed to a rotation but had not revealed who would line up at right guard and tackle.
The Bills did indeed utilize the same five linemen for all 87 snaps against the Jets, with Cody Ford lining up at right guard and Daryl Williams at right tackle. Dion Dawkins, Quinton Spain, and Mitch Morse rounded out the rest of the O-line.
"I thought they were solid," McDermott said. "I thought Daryl Williams played a really good game and [is] a good addition to our team, worked extremely hard. I loved how he finished plays and finished blocks, playing to the echo of the whistle.
"Cody, it looked like they had good symmetry over there, a lot of good things on that side. … Some good things up front, some things we certainly have to work on. I was proud of the way, though, we came out and were ready to go."
Taking advantage of expanded rosters
The NFL expanded the maximum amount of active players on gameday rosters from 46 to 48 this season, provided that eight of those players are offensive linemen (otherwise, the limit is 47).
The Bills did dress eight linemen against the Jets – Ty Nsekhe, Brian Winters, and Ryan Bates in addition to the five mentioned above – and they utilized all of them on Allen's rushing touchdown that opened the scoring during the first quarter.
Daboll said the play was intended as a run-pass option with Bates rolling into the end zone as an eligible receiver. The Jets kept Bates covered but left an open lane for Allen to score.
"That was something, if we got down there, that we were going to go to," Daboll said. "Bates leaked out there, they covered the pass. … It's good when you get those big guys in there sometimes."
High praise for Andre Roberts
The Bills' special teams captain was a constant factor in the return game Sunday, returning five punts for 69 yards (an average of 13.8). He also returned a kick for 32 yards in the third quarter.
All of that being said, it was Roberts' intangibles that McDermott felt compelled to highlight Monday.
"I love that guy," McDermott said. "He personifies what it means to be a Buffalo Bill. Unselfish leader. Tough, hardworking guy. You don't read his name in the paper a whole lot, but he does so much behind the scenes for our football team.
"Yesterday, the way he was in the zone, just unbelievable determination to get those yards, some of which he was set up for and some of which he got on his own – to play as hard as he does I think really helps the young guys to see that and model themselves after that."
Epenesa's time will come
The Bills opted to make rookie defensive end A.J. Epenesa inactive for Sunday's game, a decision Frazier explained had to do with the team's wealth of experienced depth along the defensive line.
"He's done a really good job in practice and he's really coming along," Frazier said. "We just felt like, first game of the season, no preseason, Darryl [Johnson] might be a better option at this point.
"A.J.'s time will come. That's the decision we made for this ballgame, but we'll see what happens going forward. A.J.'s done a really good job, but Darryl has done a good job as well. He did a good job in the game on Sunday, also."