MIAMI – LeSean McCoy is not 100 percent. Far from it, actually. As he collected his gear in the visitor’s locker room Sunday night, the Buffalo Bills running back wasn’t in a festive mood.
“It is what it is,” McCoy said. “I’m banged up. I just have to take care of it.”
The hamstring McCoy injured in training camp is still bothering him. He can’t shift from third to fourth gear – let alone fifth.
“I can’t get that acceleration,” he said, “that burst.”
So even McCoy isn’t sure if he’ll play next week. As he said, “We’re going to find out.” Whether McCoy takes a full week or two to rest or is put on a more disciplined pitch count, expect to see much more of rookie Karlos Williams. As McCoy gritted through his injury – averaging 1.5 yards per carry – Williams continued to burst onto the scene in Buffalo’s 41-14 win Sunday with 110 yards on 12 attempts (9.2 avg.).
Explosive, fresh and decisive, Williams is the Bills’ best running back right now and it’s not close.
Coach Rex Ryan wouldn’t say if the Bills would shelve McCoy for a week, but made it clear the seventh-year back is hurting.
“I feel frustrated for him because I know the kind of mark he wants to put on this team,” Ryan said. “But physically, right now, he’s not quite back to where we need him to be. But I love the kid, love his attitude, he’s impressive.”
Williams continued to hit holes with decisiveness and motor his 230-pound frame into the open field with violence.
His 41-yard burst knocked out a decrepit Dolphins team. Now, Williams is the only back in the NFL with a touchdown in each of the first three games of the season. He is the first rookie to do so since New England’s Robert Edwards in 1998.
He sees the pain McCoy is in. When asked if McCoy is forced to sit for a week, Williams interrupts.
“I’ll be prepared to play. With the faith they had in me to run the ball tonight, I’ll be prepared to play,” he said. “The O-Line. My coaches. My teammates. They love the way I run the ball and that support only can improve and help a guy run the ball better and harder.”
Because Williams is a back that gets better with more carries. He feasts on collisions. Contact. Wearing down a defense.
Coming into Sunday, he knew linebacker Jelani Jenkins was a big hitter – they faced each other in college. Williams never forgot that Jenkins knocked him out one Florida/Florida State game. So, this night, running through Jenkins on one run was especially sweet.
“You’ve got to love it,” he said. “Playing on the defensive side of the ball, I know those guys come to hit. … We met in the hole and he knocked my helmet sideways. His came off and we shook hands after and went on with the next play. It’s a battlefield out there. I love the contact and love the sport.”
So … about Fred Jackson.
After cutting the longtime face of the franchise and Bryce Brown, the team’s Plan B has proved beyond adequate. And at least for now, the Bills are probably better off riding Williams than a hobbling McCoy.
Ryan hemmed and hawed when asked if McCoy should sit, saying that even at “80 percent” McCoy is “still a heck of player.”
Williams repeats that he wants to make McCoy proud in his place.
As for his own game, he’s proving his worth immediately.
“It doesn’t stop here,” Williams said. “I played a good game but that doesn’t mean I slack off. I want to become one of the best backs in the game. And I’m playing with one of them, playing behind Shady, so there’s still a lot to learn and improve on.”