10 takeaways from Sean McDermott and Co.: Bills keeping the faith in Mike Tolbert - The Buffalo News

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10 takeaways from Sean McDermott and Co.: Bills keeping the faith in Mike Tolbert

1. Here's what Rick Dennison had to say about Mike Tolbert on Sept. 11, the day after the Buffalo Bills' season-opening victory over the New York Jets: "Went sideways two times and he'll get corrected on that. He'll go down hill."

Fast forward to Sunday, and there was Tolbert, taking an option pitch from quarterback Tyrod Taylor on the Bills' fourth play of the game. Predictably, the attempt was blown up for a 2-yard loss, one of many negative plays during a brutal, 47-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints at New Era Field.

One look at the 5-foot-9, 250-pounder would suggest in space is not where he excels. On Monday, Dennison explained why he went with that play at that time.

"You know, and at that point in time, that was one of the plays I wanted to call in that situation, and '25' was out," he said, referring to starting running back LeSean McCoy. "I had confidence in Mike. I think he can do a good job. We're trying to get the best we can out of each guy. We had three up yesterday, including our fullback. That's just what we did."

In the last two games, Tolbert has given the Bills almost nothing. His only other carry Sunday went for no gain, meaning he finished the day with two rushes for minus-2 yards. Against the Jets in Week 9, he was held to 3 yards on four carries, so in the Bills' last two games his grand total is 1 yard on six attempts. Despite that, coach Sean McDermott said he hasn't lost confidence in Tolbert.

"I've been around Mike for a number of years in Carolina," McDermott said. "I know what he brings to the table. I know what he's done this year at times. And from that, I'm extremely confident in Mike Tolbert."

2. The Bills have several injured players listed as day to day. That includes defensive end Jerry Hughes, who played just 25 snaps Sunday because of a shin injury. Also on the day-to-day list are left tackle Cordy Glenn (ankle/foot), cornerback E.J. Gaines (hamstring) and wide receiver Zay Jones (ankle).

3. McDermott said he can "understand where they're coming from on that" in regards to the cheer that went up when Nathan Peterman replaced Tyrod Taylor at quarterback in the fourth quarter.

"Nathan, he’s a good player," the coach said. "I like what he did yesterday. I think he did some good things in the game yesterday. I know where they’re coming from, from a fan standpoint."

That's not to say the coach is considering a quarterback change, though.

"Tyrod’s our starter, that’s what I said yesterday," he said. "I know what Tyrod’s done, and I also know Nate’s done. Tyrod’s our starter."

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4. Dennison on Peterman's performance Sunday: "He operated, he did some good things. His timing was good, he had to take an extra hitch here or there, which we’ll correct and get it done. He threw the ball, he operated the offense in two-minute, and did a fine job."

And Dennison on Peterman's development overall: "Nathan is doing a fine job. We’ll just deal with it there. I think he’s doing a fine job, he’s working hard at it, he studies, he goes through the game plan, he answers questions very well the night before the game. He knows his progressions; he knows what to do."

5. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said linebacker Ramon Humber continues to be hampered by the thumb injury that he suffered in Week 4 against Atlanta. Humber returned to the lineup in Week 9 against the Jets. He took a pair of penalties against the Saints, and Frazier appeared to open the door a bit to a possible competition for playing time at the position between Humber and rookie Matt Milano.

"Ramon, you can see that hand is still affecting him a little bit," Frazier said. "He should be better going into the next ballgame because he would have had an entire week of practice under his belt again. He should be a little bit better. But we’ll take a look at Matt as well. Matt was very productive for us when he was on the field in the lineup. We’ll take a look at it over the course of the week and see what’s best."

6. Dennison said the Bills used wide receiver Deonte Thompson in a No. 2 role Sunday because of the speed he provides. That pushed Jordan Matthews to the role of No. 3 receiver.

"He runs very well," Dennison said. "As it was, we played a lot of three-wides yesterday. Jordan's a good inside, a very good inside player."

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7. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was targeted three times on the opening drive Sunday, but that was it while Taylor was in at quarterback. Dennison said that falls on him.

"Coverage dictated that," he said. "They started out, had him one on one, we took our chances, didn’t make the plays, and then instead of changing the two safety coverages, try to protect the guy on him, I guess. We tried to work some high level, high-low levels with him, and somebody underneath him and they kept dropping underneath. It’s up to me to get him in the right spot to get him the targets and get him the catches. We’re working on that one, too."

8. With Charles Clay returning to the lineup Sunday, the Bills elected to keep three tight ends healthy. That meant going with just McCoy and Tolbert at running back. Recently signed Travaris Cadet was thus a victim of the numbers game.

"Charles Clay coming back off an injury, we wanted to make sure we had enough depth there to support his situation," McDermott said. "That happens to have a trickle-down effect sometimes through the roster."

9. With Week 10 in the books, the window has closed for the Bills to make roster moves that could potentially impact the compensatory draft pick formula. That means that players like guard Vlad Ducasse, defensive end Ryan Davis and wide receiver Andre Holmes – all of whom could alter the possibility of the Bills receiving draft-pick compensation if they were to be cut – are now safe in that regard.

"I believe in all three of those guys," McDermott said.

10. The Bills will maintain their normal practice schedule and depart Saturday for Los Angeles instead of leaving a day early for the West Coast, like some teams on the East Coast do.

"Well we've put a lot of time and research into the science behind, a two-day trip, a one-day trip, the practices," McDermott said. "This goes all the way back to the summer and trying to get ahead of it."

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