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Jerel Worthy brings energy to Bills' D-line: 'I just play with a lot of fire'

You start with the energy level.

To call it high would be an understatement. It's ridiculous.

From start to finish, Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Jerel Worthy plays as if every snap could be his last.

There is a tremendous sense of urgency in his movement. He's getting pressure on the quarterback, even if he isn't getting him on the ground. He's around the ball, either making a play or putting himself in position to make one or helping someone else to make one.

"I just play with a lot of fire, passion," Worthy said. "I just try to play with good energy and speed. The D-line coaches that I've had in the past have always said, 'If you run to the football, and you’re explosive, then good things happen.'

"So just try to be as disruptive as we can."

That was the sort of show Worthy put on during the Bills' Nov. 7 Monday Night Football loss at Seattle. Although he was officially only credited with only one assisted tackle, Worthy had one of his better games since joining the Bills as a free agent last year.

He also did enough to convince Rex Ryan and his defensive assistant coaches that he merited more playing time.

"Absolutely," Ryan said. "Yeah, he played a really good game. And I’m not going to dismiss the fact that our pass rush was just, 'Oh, well.' No, our pass rush has been exceptional (generating an NFL-leading 30 sacks). And we’re doing it maybe a little unconventionally (with another street free agent, Lorenzo Alexander, the league's co-leader in sacks with 10 sacks).

"But Worthy, I think, is really playing well."

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (94) works out during a practice this season. (James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News)

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (94) works out during a practice this season. (James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News)

With Corbin Bryant sidelined with a shoulder injury and rookie Adolphus Washington losing some of the traction he had earlier in the season, Worthy should receive a decent amount of action when the Bills face the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

Ryan is optimistic about tackle Marcell Dareus returning from a groin injury that kept him out of the Seattle game -- after he missed three games with a pulled hamstring -- but that shouldn't prevent Worthy from being part of the Bills' defensive-line rotation.

Not as along as he continues to perform as he did against Seattle.

"You’ve always got to prove to your coaches that you’re ready to play," said Worthy, who in nine games has eight tackles (five solo), including one for a loss. "You know the starting lineup, it is what it is, and they rely on those guys. But when the lineups change and the next man up has to come in, they have to know more than the starter because you never know what position you’ll be placed in.

"Essentially, along the D-line, I have to know every position. You never know who’s going to go down. I’m just excited to be out there. Any time I get a chance to go out there with my brothers and sweat and grind, man, it’s definitely an honor."

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (94) at minicamp in June 2016. (James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News)

Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (94) at minicamp in June 2016. (James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News)

Worthy likes how he fits into the Bills' scheme, because there is nothing holding him back from tapping into the fullest extent of his strengths.

"Rex allows me to go out there and play my game," he said. "Doesn’t limit me in what I do because I’m a backup. And, at the end of the day, we just try to out there and fly around.

"The defensive line, we work well together when everything is firing and we just try to put the pieces together."

Maintaining his full-throttle approach is easy for Worthy, because of those who surround him in the defensive line meeting. He is particularly inspired by the presence of 33-year-old veteran Kyle Williams, an 11-year veteran and the most senior member of the group and of the entire roster.

Worthy, who is 26 and only in his third season in the league, hangs on Williams' every word. He studies his preparation for each game. He makes a point of finding out everything Williams does to help squeeze everything he can out of his body.

Each time he steps onto the field, Worthy isn't only playing for himself. He never loses sight of the fact Williams has yet to experience what it's like to be part of a playoff game.

"Listening to his speeches, listening to how he talks to us, watching how he takes care of himself and how he goes through his daily activity, I try to be just like that," Worthy said. "Our attributes are kind of similar and I just try to play with the same passion as guys that come before us.

"At the end of the day, I want to get him to the playoffs, because he’s earned the right to be there. He’s worked hard for this organization and he’s worked hard for our defensive line. So at the end of the day, anything I can do to help this team win, I’m going to do it."

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