Corbin Bryant harbors no illusions about his role with the Buffalo Bills.
Backing up defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is Bryant’s job. So that means Sunday when the New England Patriots come into Ralph Wilson Stadium, Bryant will be headed back to the bench. Dareus is ready to make his 2015 debut after sitting out the season opener because of a one-game, league-imposed suspension.
The Bills barely missed a beat in his absence, holding the Indianapolis Colts without a point for the first 44 minutes of a 27-14 victory.
Bryant played a central role in the defensive effort, making five tackles and playing 68 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. The analytics website Pro Football Focus, which assigns every player in the NFL a grade after each game, gave Bryant the fifth-highest mark among the Bills after Week One. On a defensive line loaded with Pro Bowlers, Bryant had the highest grade.
All of which makes it worth asking, is it tough heading back to the bench?
“It’s not difficult to deal with it, it’s how it’s supposed to be,” Bryant insisted Thursday. “I’m his backup, that’s just how it is. I know my role on this team, so I’m just going to play it.”
That’s not to be confused with complacency. Bryant views it more as putting the team’s goals behind any of his own.
“Whatever is going to help the team win, I’m all for it,” he said. “I’m not a stats guy, I’m not a guy who’s looking for stuff for me. I just want to win. I want to go to the playoffs and I want to go to the Super Bowl. If I gotta ride the bench the whole season and we go to the Super Bowl, I’m fine with it.
“I wouldn’t call it being comfortable, I’d call it doing what’s best for the team. We have a Pro Bowl-caliber player, why wouldn’t he go out there? I’ve played well in this league, but I haven’t gone to the Pro Bowl.”
Dareus’ return has fans wondering just what the ceiling for this year’s defense can be. Bryant himself is also anxious to find out.
“He’s a great player,” he said of Dareus. “We’ve seen over the years what he can do to O-linemen, he can beat the double team, he’s quick. He’s a guy that’s got it all. We’re happy to have him back. I can’t wait to see him out there.”
With Bryant in the middle of the defense last week, the Bills limited the Colts to just 64 rushing yards. Indianapolis starter Frank Gore managed just 31 yards on eight carries as the Colts largely had to abandon the run.
“Any time you hold a great rusher like that under 100 yards, it’s a great day,” Bryant said. “Our goal as a defense is to make teams one dimensional. If we can make teams pass it and make them one dimensional, we’re happy with that.”
The Bills also have to be happy knowing that if Dareus or Kyle Williams need a break during games, Bryant is ready and more than capable of stepping in for them.
“I know this defense,” he said. “I know it like the back of my hand, and when you know the defense and you know where you’re supposed to be, it makes it easier.”