Rex Ryan didn’t want to use the word “concern” Monday when discussing the various injuries some of his players are dealing with.
His answer, however, will likely give Buffalo Bills fans some anxiety.
“When you don’t finish a game, most of the time the following week, those players aren’t available,” Ryan said. “We talk to our players – we challenge our players all the time – about ‘you’ve got to be ready to go.’ Everybody on that roster has to be ready to go. ‘One play away,’ that’s the old saying, but it’s true now.”
Both wide receiver Sammy Watkins (calf) and John Miller (groin) were unable to finish Sunday’s win over the Miami Dolphins. Ryan said it’s “certainly a possibility” they may not be able to play Sunday against the New York Giants.
“Obviously it’s too early in the week to tell” if they’ll be able to play in Week Four, “but we’ve got to go in thinking that the next guy is going to have to step up and do a good job for us,” Ryan said. “We’ve got to be ready to roll.”
The Bills’ list of injured players also contains running back LeSean McCoy, who is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury that has robbed him of much of his explosiveness. Ryan would not rule out holding McCoy out in an effort to get him fully healed.
“We’ll consider doing anything that’s in the best interest of our football team and our players,” the coach said, adding that he had “no idea” if McCoy is currently hurt worse than he was a week ago. “I’m not going to say, ‘yeah, I’m going to rest him.’ I think I’ll let our experts, you know, look at that. Our doctors and our trainers and all that type of stuff, they’ll tell me.”
Safety Aaron Williams, who missed Sunday’s game with a neck injury, is still “stiff and sore,” Ryan said.
“We’ll see how he progresses,” Ryan added. “I think with all these guys – literally every one – I know I’m being real vague on the injury stuff. But it’s so early. It’s right after the game, Aaron’s not, but I think all these guys, we’ll have a better idea, a better handle on it, as the week goes on. Hopefully they’ll be ready to play, but we’ll see.”
Chris Hogan played a season-high 31 snaps Sunday after replacing Watkins. His 38-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the fourth quarter increased the Bills’ lead to 34-8.
“I really like the way Hogan stepped in and played,” Ryan said, adding that the job his wide receivers did Sunday went beyond the box score. “I don’t know if you can tell or not, but our receivers, I’m proud of the way we’re blocking.”
Robert Woods was called for a personal foul while blocking on special teams, but Ryan didn’t sound like he had an issue with the penalty.
“Woods got a 15-yard penalty for taking a guy on his back or something,” the coach said. “But he’s been doing a tremendous job. Hogan is blocking well. Percy Harvin – we have him blocking their best linebacker yesterday and things. Unselfish, and that is the mark of a good team. That is the type of team we want to be.
“It also will lead to big runs for us and I think we saw that a little bit as the game went on.”
If there was any worry among fans about a hangover from the loss to New England in Week Two, Ryan didn’t share any of it.
“What I did was I told them the truth,” he said of his sobering message to the team. “Our bounce back started in the fourth quarter of that New England game. … It’s easy to throw out the white flag when you’re down all those scores. We did just the opposite.”
The Bills closed a 37-13 deficit at the start of the fourth quarter against the Patriots to 37-32, then got the ball back with a chance to potentially tie the game.
“We actually made it a game and that was … against a team that was trying to stick it to you,” Ryan said. “We know it. Everybody knows it, I’m the only guy that will admit it.”
That response helped Ryan learn about the competitive makeup of his team.
“It was like, ‘ok, this is who we are,’ ” he said. “I can tell you this – We’re a very talent team, especially when we have our guys out there. We’ll see how it goes.
“We know we are a long way from … matching up, I guess, with New England. Obviously they blew us out. OK, we’ll see. But each week, we move on. That was when I knew this team. … They showed me a lot. They showed me about the heart and the resiliency and everything else. So I expected us to play well when we went to Miami and we certainly bounced back.”