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Bills could have as many as four new starters against Bengals

The Buffalo Bills' bye week served a dual purpose.

The break in the schedule gave the team's ailing players some much-needed rest and relaxation following a disappointing, 31-25 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football.

"It's right up there, I don't think there's any doubt," coach Rex Ryan said Monday when asked if this is the most one of his teams has ever needed the break in the schedule. "You know, we really could have used it the previous week. We were running on empty, but the effort that we displayed, it's unfortunate we never got the results because, man, they laid it out there.

"It's tough to suffer a loss like that, where you did compete with everything you had -- I mean every ounce that we had. But now I feel like we're healthy and feeling good and we got to be rolling now."

The bye week also gave the coaching staff the opportunity to do some self-scouting.

Judging from comments by Ryan, some changes could be in order based on the findings.

"We're going to have competition in a lot of different spots this week and give guys opportunities to earn starting nods," he said. "In the secondary there'll be competition. Maybe the offensive line. We have to do what's best for our football team regardless of maybe what we thought. Let's do what's best. Whoever's playing best will be out there."

So which jobs could be up for grabs? Here's a rundown:

Cornerback:  Apparently, it was more than an illness that led to Ronald Darby being benched by in Week Nine.

Upon returning to practice Monday, Corey White lined up with the first team in Darby's usual spot. Afterward, White said coaches told him it would be an "open competition" for the job opposite Stephon Gilmore in the secondary.

"I've just been working all year," White said. "Never let down. Never give up. Just keep battling, because you never know what opportunity you might get."

Darby was benched in the loss to the Seattle Seahawks after 19 defensive snaps, with Ryan explaining after the game that the second-year veteran was sick.

Darby, however, downplayed his illness Monday, saying "they're the coaches" when asked about the lineup change.

"Just got to look at yourself in the mirror, work on what you've been doing wrong," he said. "It's frustrating, but at the end of the day, I'm young, I'm going to learn from my mistakes. I've been through rough times before. It' ain't nothing new."

Darby gave up a 50-yard completion to Doug Baldwin on Seattle's second play, then later took a pass-interference penalty in the second quarter that helped set up another Seahawks touchdown on the next play.

"It's been up and down," he said of his season. "Y'all see it. I don't get what you're trying to ask me. Just got to keep pushing. ... It could be technique. At the end of the day, plays going to get made on you. It's the NFL. They're getting paid, too."

After a phenomenal rookie season that included 21 passes defensed and two interceptions, Darby has fallen into a sophomore slump. He has just nine passes defensed in eight games -- missing Week Three because of a hamstring injury -- and no interceptions.

That would explain why the Bills are willing to at least give White a look at earning the starting job in practice.

"Looking forward to this week and the challenges," White said. "It's my fifth year in the league. I've seen everything. I've started, come off the bench, so it's nothing to me, really."

Whether it's White or Darby in the lineup Sunday, the Bills will need a better performance out of their secondary in Week 11. Heading into their Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants, the Cincinnati Bengals have the fifth-ranked passing attack in the league.

"I'll be game ready when it comes to Sunday," White said. "I'm going to stay focused mentally, study these guys and we'll see what happens. They've got one of the best quarterback-receiver tandems in the league. We're going to prepare and try not to let AJ Green beat us."

White has played in 59 career games, with 21 starts. During the 2014 season in New Orleans, he started nine times.

Center: The Bills don't have a choice here -- starter Eric Wood is out indefinitely after suffering a broken leg against the Seahawks. He'll be replaced by either Ryan Groy or Patrick Lewis in the lineup. Groy, 26, has appeared in all nine games this season, playing 12 percent of the offensive snaps, but his only time at center came when he replaced Wood against the Seahawks.

"Obviously Ryan you feel good about," Ryan said. "He replaced Eric when he went down and he's been doing it, but we want to give Patrick Lewis an opportunity, as well. So that's why both guys will work there."

Groy started one game at center in 54 career games in college at Wisconsin, but said he played the position "quite a bit" as a backup for the Badgers. Given that he's been the only interior offensive lineman active on game days for the Bills, he's also practiced it extensively this year.

"It's just being comfortable with each other," he said. "It's all communication. The more reps we get out here -- this extra day will help with practice -- that'll help everybody."

Groy has come on the field as a sixth offensive lineman in certain packages this season and feels like that experience gives him a good grasp on the entire offense.

"I'm looking at it like I'm starting," he said. "I'm going to prepare like I'm the starter. Getting everything down, getting comfortable with the guys next to me and moving forward."

Lewis, who was claimed off waivers from the Seahawks as teams made their final cuts in the summer, has been inactive for all nine games this year.

Right tackle: Jordan Mills has taken all but one snap this season, but struggled against the Seahawks. Most notably, he allowed Cliff Avril to get past him for a sack of Tyrod Taylor on third and goal from the Seahawks' 8-yard line with 52 seconds left.

Ryan strongly hinted that Seantrel Henderson will have an opportunity to earn playing time, although Mills was still with the starters during the portion of practice open to the media Monday.

"Seantrel looked outstanding last week, so we're going to give him an opportunity and we'll see what happens," Ryan said. "I'm encouraged right now with the way he practiced ... like, that was the guy that I remember, a special athlete. Hopefully he can continue that way."

Safety: Ryan's comment that there will be competition in the "secondary" would seem to leave open the possibility of change here, as well. Robert Blanton has taken over as the starter the last two games after Aaron Williams was hurt in Week Seven against the Dolphins, playing all but two snaps. But he's had issues in coverage in both games, and the Bills could turn to either Duke Williams or Jonathan Meeks to pair with Corey Graham.

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