Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots.
McCoy, who was unable to finish Thursday’s practice after developing tightness and soreness in his hamstring, was limited during Friday’s session at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
“It is kind of tricky to gauge it and things like that,” Ryan said of the running back’s injury. “But a little bit of a concern.”
So, too, was the Bills’ running game in last Sunday’s 27-14 season-opening victory against the Indianapolis Colts. The Bills rushed for 147 yards on 36 carries, averaging a solid 4.1 yards per rush, but McCoy was limited to 41 yards on 17 attempts. His total yards equaled that of quarterback Tyrod Taylor and were 14 fewer than the game’s leading rusher, Bills rookie Karlos Williams.
The Bills have spent a large portion of the week trying to get McCoy and his offensive linemen and fullback Jerome Felton to work well together.
“It’s McCoy and the offensive line just being on the same page and making proper reads and things like that,” Bills running backs coach Anthony Lynn said. “He made some good reads in that game. He had a couple that he’d love to have back, but I think every back has that. But I think that we’re right on track.
“A guy like LeSean, who has the quickness to circle the defense, sometimes you’ve got to know when he’s around you to let your guy go because that’s where you see holding calls and things like that, when guys circle the defense. But that’s an adjustment for some people, especially the edge blockers, like the tight ends. But other than that, it’s just football.”
Felton said he “learned stuff” about McCoy’s running style by playing a first regular-season game with him. McCoy played briefly in the preseason opener against Carolina before a hamstring sidelined him for the rest of preseason.
“I noticed a couple of little things I can do a little different, just for his type of runner,” Felton said. “I’m going to continue to learn with him the more I play with him, and vice versa. But I think, as we go, there’ll be a big jump from Week One to Week Two. I’m just as anxious for him to have a big game as he is to have a big game.”
Provided, of course, McCoy plays.
Safety Corey Graham, who suffered a concussion on the first play from scrimmage against Indianapolis, fully participated in Friday’s practice. He’s listed as probable for the New England game, along with wide receiver Percy Harvin (hip).
Ryan said Graham passed all of the tests in the NFL’s concussion protocol and is “ready to go.”
Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (ribs) and linebacker Tony Steward (knee) are out for Sunday. In the early portion of practice open to the media, both were seen doing some work off to the side.
“They’re getting a lot better,” Ryan said. “The one kid, Goodwin, had his shirt off; he’s trying to look good. ‘McRib,’ I think they call him. But he’s doing better and Steward’s coming along, too, so it shouldn’t be long for these guys.”
The Bills’ coaches aren’t panicking over the fact wide receiver Sammy Watkins didn’t catch a pass against Indianapolis and wasn’t targeted until late in the game.
“It really was the way the game evolved,” wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal said. “For a majority of the game, cornerback Vontae Davis was on him with a safety shaded to his side. Could we have thrown some in Watkins’ direction? Yes. But our game plan was, ‘Why? We’ve got Percy Harvin with off coverage, so why force something when we don’t have to?’
“I’m his coach,” Lal said of Watkins. “I was very critical on the film review. He ran some very good routes and was open quite a bit. The lay person might say, ‘Oh, Vontae shut him down.’ Well, that’s not the case.
“Now their scheme was very good to not so much take him out of the game, but make it harder to throw over there. And when so much was open on the other side, we were like, ‘Why should we?’ Because our big thing with Rex and offensive coordinator Greg Roman is we want to play smart football, and smart football was just taking what they give us. But he ran some really good routes.
“And there were a few throws to Watkins that we had dialed up, and for whatever reason they didn’t work. “Like the ‘go’ route, we were off by a foot. There was another play that we schemed up and we had the desired defensive look, and I think there was a penalty or something. It could have been very different. You self-scout yourself and say, ‘Hey, could we have done something to get him more involved?’ And had these plays hit – a couple of them were early – he would have been.”
Former Bills General Manager Bill Polian will receive his Pro Football Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence at halftime of Sunday’s game.
Polian was inducted into the Hall last August.