INDIANAPOLIS – It’s conceivable the Buffalo Bills will be without LeSean McCoy for at least part of the 2016 season.
A report from NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport said the team was preparing accordingly Wednesday. And given the uncertainty of McCoy’s status based on the investigation into his involvement in a Feb. 7 nightclub brawl in Philadelphia that resulted in injuries to two off-duty police officers, that’s plausible.
After saying he didn’t “know where they get these reports like that,” coach Rex Ryan didn’t hesitate to acknowledge that the Bills would be ready to respond to the loss of McCoy to an NFL suspension, which could occur regardless of whether he is convicted or even charged in the incident.
“You prepare for everything as far as players,” Ryan said while addressing reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. “We’ll be prepared to draft, or have a list, of running backs, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, whatever it is. That’s how we go into it.”
Beyond saying that he spoke with McCoy the morning after the altercation and hasn’t spoken with him since, Ryan refrained from addressing any specifics of the case.
But he had plenty to say about the Bills’ potential backup plan at running back.
He gushed about the production of Karlos Williams, the Bills’ fifth-round draft pick from Florida State. He would move into the starting role, and Ryan would fully expect him to handle it well.
Williams averaged nearly 8 yards per carry while piling up 186 yards and scoring a touchdown in each of his first three games. He finished the year with an average of 5.6 yards per carry. Williams also became only the second player in NFL history to score a touchdown, rushing and receiving, in each of his first six games.
“Well, Karlos is an excellent back, there’s no question about it,” Ryan said. “Obviously, very talented guy. He’s a physical back, he’s smart, he loves to play, and those are some characteristics that he has. But he’s an all-around talent and obviously when (General Manager) Doug Whaley drafted him in the fifth round last year, (the reaction) “was like, ‘Ah, a running back.’ But we drafted him really based on the thing that he could be a backup running back and be a great special-team player; he was the captain on the Florida State special teams for two years.
“So we were so smart, we were thinking we were getting a great special-teams player. By the way, he never played a snap for us on special teams last year, but he was a tremendous player for us, so sometimes you get lucky.”
The Bills also have Mike Gillislee, who emerged from virtually nowhere to average 4.7 yards per carry and run for touchdowns of 19, 60 and 50 yards after being activated from the practice squad for the final five games of the season.
Then, of course, there is the NFL Draft. Ryan used the Bills’ approach to last year’s draft as an example of their open-mindedness at all positions.
“Last year, when you look at how the draft went, we drafted a corner (Ronald Darby) in the second round, our first pick in the draft, and that was an area of strength for us,” Ryan said. “But we ended up taking a great football player in Darby, because he’s a great player, even though we were much criticized for that move by a lot of people in here. But it ended up working out. So I think, everything you do, you prepare the best that you can with your team and things come up. But as an organization, you prepare for everything.”