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Bills plan to make Raiders' receivers earn their plays

As members of the Buffalo Bills' secondary studied the Oakland Raiders' passing game this week, they couldn't help but notice a disturbing trend.

It wasn't the Raiders' ability to strike quickly and frequently with big plays, although that would figure to be a bit intimidating for them to watch.

No, what troubled the Bills' defensive backs was seeing opponents being too fast to succumb to the combined explosiveness of the dynamic wide-receiving duo of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.

In game after game, they noticed secondaries providing cushions, allowing routes to be run and passes from rising-star quarterback Derek Carr to be caught, rather than taking the fight to the pass-catchers.

"We're going to get in their face a little bit," nickel back Nickell Robey-Coleman said Friday. "We're going to challenge those guys, man. We're going to compete.

"Win your one-on-ones, be competitive. He might catch the ball, but make him work for it. Nobody makes them work for nothing. They give it to them. Make them work for it, and let's see what happens around the third, fourth quarter if they're still going to be doing the same thing, if they're still going to be competitive."

Bold talk from someone on a team that has routinely given up long throws. Even bolder considering how much the Bills have been depleted by injuries on the back end of their defense.

They won't have starting cornerback Ronald Darby, who suffered a concussion against Jacksonville last Sunday. They already are without their best safety, Aaron Williams, and have had their safety depth compromised by other injuries.

But the players who will be on the field at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Sunday are supremely confident in their ability to hold up against the NFL's fourth-ranked passing attack.

"You've got to use great eyes and technique," said Kevon Seymour, who will make his second NFL start in place of Darby. "I know that I'm athletic enough and fast enough to cover anybody, so I've just got to use my technique and great eyes like I've been doing all week (in practice). For example, they can double-move me if I've got my eyes in the backfield. Just simple things.

"We do have a lot of bodies that have dropped, but then we've got guys that can step up and fill the jobs. We don't feel pressure. Corey White's doing a great job playing safety, corner, nickel. Robey's going a great job at nickel. And we're all doing a great job working together. We've got great safeties that are doing a great job of communicating. When we're not communicating, that's when big plays happen."

White, who is expected to alternate between safety and cornerback, shares Seymour's enthusiasm.

He relishes the challenge to face one of the league's best passing teams. He knows that if he and the rest of the secondary are able to hold their own, they will make their mark on the NFL.

So far, the majority of Raider opponents have been buried under an avalanche of yards and points, courtesy of Carr's arm.

White describes the Raiders as a newer version of the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf," when Kurt Warner was their quarterback.

"All we're focusing on is not giving up the big play," White said. "Make them drive. You know, they're going to move the ball, they're going to make some plays. But don't give up anything over 25 yards. Make them earn anything. That's our focus this week."

That starts with the ability to stop the Raiders' running game. It should be doable, considering that Oakland is a good but not necessarily dominant rushing team.

After that, it is a matter of doing everything possible to not allow Cooper and Crabtree to break the game open.

"They get open, they run great routes, compete for the deep ball," White said. "They high point everything. It's going to be a challenge for us, but we should be fine."

"The most important thing," Seymour said, "is to ball out and have fun and win the game."

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