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Bills juggling DBs while taking Tre’Davious White’s return ‘one day at a time’

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ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK. A typical coach’s speech is: “Next player.” Injuries are part of football and coaches expect players to step in and impress at any moment.

But Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier acknowledged that it’s not always easy, especially for a second player with three different combinations starting at the outside cornerback.

“It’s definitely tough not knowing week after week which guys are going to start and when you’re trying to look at practice and try to figure out who deserves more snaps,” Frazier said. “Before, we didn’t have to do this. We usually had four guys who were pretty healthy, for the most part, and they were in the lineup week after week. It didn’t happen this year.”

Rookies Cayir Elam and Christian Benford have spent time pairing up with 2020 seventh-round pick Dane Jackson. None of the three were available for every game. And it’s not hitting changing faces in safety.

The Bills are counting on a mixed roster of players, including many youngsters, as defenseman Tre’Davius ​​White struggles to recover from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament. They have been tasked with playing an important role in the defense, which led the league last season in points and yards allowed per game and are fifth and 13th in their respective categories this season.

“Everyone has a chance to play, which is something that probably hasn’t even been heard of in the NFL because you always have two guys. [stay healthy]”, Elam told Sportzshala.

On Thanksgiving, the Bills face the Detroit Lions (12:30 pm ET, CBS), a team that has won three games in a row and leads the league in completion percentage with 20-plus yards (18.1%). Buffalo appears close to bringing Elam back from an ankle injury he sustained in Game 2 of the win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5, but was injured again in Week 9. The game will also commemorate the anniversary of White’s injury on Day Thanksgiving last year. while questions remain about the date of his return.

“[The cornerbacks] are a stable group. They are extremely tough. We have complete confidence in all of them,” said coach Sean McDermott. “Obviously, some players have been in and out of the roster due to injury.”

The scores are tied for the league lead in steals (13) with steals from seven different players, but the team conceded a few big yards. The defense ranks 20th in passes allowed per game (220.8). Last year, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin alone had over 100 receiving yards against the Bills. Already this season, six players have done it. This week may be a good opportunity to reverse that trend, as the Lions’ receivers have only gone over 100 yards three times.

The duo of Jackson and Elam started the most games (five). Elam missed the last two but has been actively involved in training since last Thursday. In his absence, Benford hit 96.4% of snaps against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10 but then split time with veteran practice team quarterback Xavier Rhodes, who played his first snaps as Bill on Sunday. The team wanted to see where Rhodes was after a hamstring injury in his first week with the team.

The veteran also turned into a mentor of sorts for the Bills in the first round.

“When I came, I always felt that I had to do everything alone,” Elam said. “And having someone like Xavier with so much experience, he always makes sure that from a psychological point of view, I’m fine. Make sure in terms of technique, like make sure I’m just honing it. And he wants me to succeed and succeed in this system. That’s what I really appreciate.”

Maika Hyde is on injury reserve, but prior to that, he and defenseman Jordan Poyer started 79 games together, far more than any pair of defensemen in the past six seasons (Darnell Savage/Adrian Amos, Packers, 48). Elias Sports Office. Poyer has missed four games this year and Damar Hamlin, a 2021 sixth-round pick, started alongside him when he was active.

The looming missing item for the bills is white. Before the 2019 All-Pro tore his ACL, he had missed a total of three regular season games since being drafted 27th overall by the Bills in the 2017 draft. White has been on the active roster, off the injury record, and has not played games since he was activated from the reserve/pup list on November 1. He refused to speak on Tuesday.

“It’s more of a team decision and making sure he’s ready and in a good place,” McDermott said. “So we’ll just keep taking it like I said, one day at a time here.”

Elam noted that he was able to learn from White even when the veteran was not on the field. And while the team didn’t share details of White’s work on his return, teammates have noticed that he looks more like his former self.

“He gets his confidence back, he gets his prey back, more importantly. He’s there with the mindset. And I hope he comes back soon,” wide receiver Stephon Diggs said. “He’s a damn good player, man. I just can’t wait to see him there again.”



Source: www.espn.com