The Buffalo Bills must play the next month or two without rookie QB E.J. Manuel. They’ve tapped an inexperienced Thaddeus Lewis off of the practice squad to take his place. Lewis has some pro playing time, but not much. His total NFL experience encompasses the one start that he made for the Cleveland Browns last season.
While he tries to break into the lineup, the Bills must keep point totals low to stay in games. With that said, it’s a good time to get some players back in the Bills’ secondary.
The Bills are expected to get back CBs Stephon Gilmore and Ron Brooks as well as S Jairus Byrd this weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals. It will be the first game of the season for both Gilmore and Byrd, and will be the first for Brooks since Week 1.
This will be the first game of the season in which the Bills have their full complement of CBs. Expect resident whipping boy Justin Rogers to get minimal playing time in this one. Gilmore and McKelvin will take the corners and Brooks or Nickell Robey, who played great there in Brooks’ absence, will manage the slot.
If Gilmore or McKelvin needed some breathers in this game, it wouldn’t be a surprise for fans to see S Aaron Williams take the outside as he did during the past two games, rather than Rogers.
As far as safeties go, Byrd’s return is nice, but the unit has been exceptional without him so far this year. The guy that will probably lose snaps over Byrd’s return is Da’Norris Searcy. Williams has been the most versatile DB for the Bills, and veteran Jim Leonhard is an asset back there. DC Mike Pettine loves to use three-safety sets, so expect to see plenty of Leonhard going forward.
Obviously, the Bills are going to lose games while Manuel is out. How many and by how much will be determined by how the defense keeps them in games. This is the unit that needs to step up, and it’s the perfect time for them to be playing together for the first time this season.