LONDON – It’s been a whirlwind for the Buffalo Bills. One moment, they were beaten by the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-21. The next, they were on a plane to London. Now, they’re jetlagged with a day off to relax and recuperate. So before this all began, coach Rex Ryan tried using a war analogy to set his team on the right track.
On Saturday night, he showed players a Navy SEALs video clip.
Asked about the team’s myriad injuries at Tuesday’s “Play 60” event, cornerback Ron Brooks brought up the clip as something the players must think about, a way to unify through a tough period.
“We want to be like Navy SEALs,” Brooks said. “We want to have each others’ backs in those hard and tough times and no matter we’re not going to stop fighting for each other. We might not have had the outcome that we wanted but that’s not going to change the outlook of who we are, what we are and what we know we’re capable of doing.
“So we just have to get over the injuries, get back healthy, come back and just get ready to play.”
The Bills wouldn’t comment on who didn’t make the trip overseas on Tuesday, but NFL Network reported that defensive tackle Kyle Williams (knee) and wide receiver Percy Harvin (knee) stayed back while wideout Sammy Watkins (ankle) headed to London and was seen in a walking boot. He’ll likely need to show vast improvement through the week to play on Sunday.
Right tackle Seantrel Henderson suffered a concussion, meaning Cyrus Kouandjio gets the start Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars if Henderson can’t suit up. And receiver/returner Marquise Goodwin (ribs) was placed on injured reserve with the team signing offensive tackle Jordan Mills.
Brooks said the clip Ryan showed the team was taken from a movie about SEALs pinned down by gunfire. One story, above all else, stood out to him.
“One of the guys said how he had fallen and broke his back and his legs,” Brooks said. “He was paralyzed from the waist down and he drew a line in the sand for seven miles. When you hear something like that, we play a sport and we have full use of our bodies. So we have to give it all we have for each other every play no matter what because this man, he couldn’t use his legs but for seven miles he drew a line in the sand and got to his destination.”
This is hardly war over in London. But the Bills certainly could use a win to get their season back on track.
Communication will be a focus in the Bills secondary this week. In Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, multiple players cited “miscommunication” as one problem defensively.
Ralph Wilson Stadium got loud, and louder, which is what they all want. But players struggled hearing each other and couldn’t get in the right call at times.
“You can’t hear sometimes because of the crowd,” safety Bacarri Rambo said at Tuesday’s “Play 60” event. “Not complaining – we enjoy the fans bringing it. It’s just sometimes you can’t hear. But if we can’t hear, we know the offense can’t hear. We just have to get set and communicate better.”
There was no practice Tuesday. But throwing a football to kids running routes at this Tottenham Hotspur soccer team training facility, Rambo indicated that the team’s attitude is in the right place.
“It’s a long season ahead of us,” Rambo said. “We still have to just push forward.”
A trip to London, where futbol is the rage, may be what the Bills’ pass defense needs to get back on track. Losing safety Aaron Williams was a blow and they’re not clicking on all cylinders in Rex Ryan’s complex scheme. Rambo isn’t sure what the atmosphere will be like but, chances are, players will be able to hear each other much better.
Before the Bengals game, the Bills introduced Duke Williams and Rambo as co-starters. Then, Williams played 61 of 61 snaps alongside starter Corey Graham (60 of 61) with Rambo seeing four snaps.
He believes he could help with the communication.
“I try to get everybody on the same page and go out there and just play ball,” Rambo said. “That’s the main thing: know our assignment and play ball.”
Ryan’s message to the team? This is a “business trip.” Players had Tuesday off, then it’s time to work.
“We have to take care of Jacksonville – that’d make this trip a lot more enjoyable,” Rambo said. “It’s a very huge game. We just have to come out here and handle business.
“Do our job. Hold each and every player accountable. Just come out here and have fun man. Go out on the field, do our assignment and play ball. Nobody will stand a chance if we just go out here, have great communication and everybody plays great fundamental football.”
Bills kicker Dan Carpenter feels right at home in the country that truly puts the foot in football.
Long before he booted footballs for a living, Carpenter played soccer in his hometown of Helena, Mont. He was a defender on a summer travel team from ages 9 to 18.
“I was decent, I guess,” Carpenter said with a laugh Tuesday. “I kept making the team,” although “we never really had too many extra people ever try out.”
Eleven years later, Carpenter still can do some pretty fancy footwork with a soccer ball.
He demonstrated as much with one of the many soccer balls that were on the artificial turf, along with footballs, as the Bills players and members of the Tottenham Hotspur soccer team interacted with each other and about 100 boys and girls at the Premier League squad’s training facility.
And it was because of the considerable distance he could kick a soccer ball that others urged Carpenter to give football a try. He wound up being a kicker and wide receiver on his high school team before becoming a full-time kicker at the University of Montana, from where he launched an eight-year NFL career.
Carpenter understands that a number of fans in the United Kingdom with interest in Sunday’s game between the Bills and Jaguars at Wembley Stadium will pay close attention to the teams’ kickers.
“I guess it’s a little more familiar to them,” he said. “It’s a different point of view on sports. Everyone in America loves our football, American football. You come over here and” kids “looks up to soccer players as their idols, who they want to grow up to be and what they want to do when they grow up. That’s their dream.
“It’s just cool to come over and see that way of life for these kids.”
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