The Buffalo Bills had just finished up their free agency priorities when the call came. It was Philadelphia. And they were looking to trade LeSean McCoy.
"It just shows how you better be flexible in your way of thinking," coach Rex Ryan said. "It was an opportunity for us to add a dynamic player to our football team."
The Bills are 6-6, the Eagles are 5-7, so neither team has exactly skyrocketed into Super Bowl form. But McCoy has also proved he has plenty of gas left in the tank at this point of his career. After battling a hamstring injury early in the year, the 27-year-old back has 792 yards on 173 attempts with three touchdowns --- the Bills' offensive identity seemed to really take shape in Sunday's 30-21 win over the Houston Texans.
"From our perspective, we couldn't be happier with it," Ryan said. "Obviously, LeSean is a great player, great talent and we love him in the building. He's got that great energy about him. And a good teammate."
Ryan knows that this game is going to mean something extra to McCoy. After all, he recently went through a reunion trip himself when the Bills beat the Jets in New York, 22-17.
And this trip, he adds, carries even more significance since McCoy grew up in the state, played college ball in the state, and then was drafted within the same state.
The key, all along, was McCoy working past a nagging hamstring injury, Ryan said. McCoy originally hurt the hamstring Aug. 18, started the season, aggravated it, took some time off and now is resembling the rare talent Buffalo hoped for all along.
"I truly believe that it was the hamstring more than anything else," Ryan said. "Because there were times in training camp where it was like, 'Oh my goodness.' You saw, like, 'This guy is going to dominate.' There's no question about it. It was just about him getting healthy. Now that he's healthy, we're seeing the guy that we know he is."
It's a different week in McCoy's world. He'll be speaking later Wednesday to us here at One Bills Drive.
There was no need for Ryan to sit down with McCoy to discuss how they'd handle the hoopla of a Philly return. Why would he? All year, he's let players in Buffalo be themselves, a major reason guys love playing for Ryan to begin with.
"He's a man," Ryan said. "Sometimes, I look at it this way, for our fans to connect with the players, this gives them an opportunity. Because they want to know what it's like, to put themselves in that position. Why would I, 'Hey, just say this. Here's a sentence for you. Memorize this, this will be great.' Why not just tell the truth? Or hide it if you want, like I did all week."