Rex Ryan said Monday he would be “shocked” if linebacker Zach Brown didn’t win a national award for his 18-tackle performance in the Bills’ 16-0 victory against the Patriots.
Ryan was spot on: Wednesday morning, Brown was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Brown recorded a sack and forced two forced fumbles in addition to his 18 tackles, which were a career high. Through four weeks, he leads the NFL with 51 total tackles.
Bacarri Rambo was the last Bill to win the award, being honored for his Week 10 performance against the Jets last season.
The NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week was Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, whom the Bills have the pleasure of trying to stop on Sunday. Donald registered 1.5 sacks in the Rams’ 17-13 victory over the Cardinals while logging five quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
Speaking of Donald, there was a report from Pro Football Talk this week the Rams’ All-Pro defensive tackle is still bothered by a comment Rex Ryan made about him two years ago.
Ryan, as coach of the Jets, was mad that Donald got selected to the Pro Bowl over Jets tackle Sheldon Richardson and said this:
“If it kept (Richardson) out of the Pro Bowl because some guy (Donald) had ‘X’ amount of sacks, and that guy can’t hold his jock as a player, to be honest with you, I think that’s kind of strange to me.”
Ryan said Wednesday that he made the comment without seeing Donald on film. He doesn’t blame Donald for still being upset.
After watching him play, “Ohhh, I want to take that back,” Ryan thought.
“You know me, I make some comments that aren’t really good. That’s one of them,” Ryan said.
“This guy’s really good. He reminds me of (Hall of Famer) John Randle. His quickness, change-of-direction, I mean, unusual. You just don’t see it. So, yeah, that probably wasn’t the smartest comment of all time.”
Ryan introduced Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at his Buffalo rally in April. Several Bills players, however, were upset their coach had chosen to support a candidate they view as racist, according to a new report.
Bleacher Report magazine writer Mike Freeman published a story Wednesday on divisiveness of the 2016 election – and Trump in particular – in NFL locker rooms. The article began with a focus on Ryan and the Bills.
Said one Bills player who was given anonymity: “I see Trump as someone who is hostile to people of color, and the fact that Rex supports him made me look at him completely differently, and not in a positive way.”
Here’s an excerpt on the Bills, directly from Freeman:
“Back in the Bills locker room, however, Ryan’s staff was less impressed with the Republican candidate for president – and that their boss was backing him. A Bills player said when he learned Ryan had spoken at Trump’s rally, he simply couldn’t believe it. ‘Rex is such an open-minded guy, a really good person,’ said the player, who asked not to be identified, fearing repercussions from the Bills. ‘But the fact he could back someone as closed-minded as Trump genuinely shocked me.’
“The player, who is black, emphasized that teammates’ frustration with their coach’s public endorsement was not universal. But in private discussions, he said, ‘Some of the African-American players on the team weren’t happy about Rex doing that.’”
Ryan declined to comment for Freeman’s story. His Wednesday press conference with Buffalo media concluded before the story made its rounds online.
One player who supported Ryan in the article was Richie Incognito, who said players can relate to Trump’s message.
“I think that he can help this nation get back to a world superpower,” Incognito said in the story. “Where I think he could help is putting us first again and having that – it’s my mentality, too – having that tough attitude where you put America first and everyone’s thinking we’re the greatest nation in the world. Don’t mess with America. That toughness is where I identify with him.”
Bills left tackle Cordy Glenn was able to make it through the entire game Sunday in his return from a high ankle sprain. That was a relief for Rex Ryan, who worried Michael Ola might have to play right after being signed off the Giants practice squad.
“Quite honestly, we thought he was going to have to start after two days of practice,” Ryan said. “And then Cordy’s like, nah I’m ready.”
But Ryan said the extended playtime left his franchise left tackle quite sore. Glenn was held out of Wednesday’s practice, as was his backup, Cyrus Kouandjio.
“We had 86 snaps on offense,” Ryan said. “We hope we have that many again, that would be outstanding. But Cordy played well, got through the game, but he’s sore right now so we’ll probably back him off in practice (Wednesday) for sure.”
Kouandjio missed the Patriots game with an ankle injury, but Ryan said he was making encouraging strides toward returning. Ryan also said starting right tackle Jordan Mills, who came out briefly Sunday, “will be just fine.”
Seantrel Henderson, who was thought to be the team’s swing tackle before being suspended, is eligible to return this week. Ryan was noncommittal on his status, only saying “we’ll see where he’s at.”
Additional players held out of practice Wednesday were receiver Greg Salas (groin), cornerback Corey White (shoulder), tight end Charles Clay (knee) and backup center Patrick Lewis (knee). Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (ankle), fullback Jerome Felton (back) and safety Jonathan Meeks (foot) were limited.
The Bills made one practice squad move Wednesday, adding tight end Manasseh Garner. He spent time on the Bills practice squad at the end of the 2015 season.