PHILADELPHIA – Ronald Darby tried to downplay the fact that his first interception while wearing a Philadelphia Eagles uniform came against his former team.
"Any pick is a good pick, whether it's against the Bills or anybody else," Darby said after the Eagles' 20-16 preseason victory against the Buffalo Bills Thursday night.
Darby's first-quarter pickoff of a Tyrod Taylor pass and weaving 48-yard return put the Eagles at the Bills' 18-yard line. He celebrated the play with his teammates, who knew how much it meant to him, even in a game that didn't count. But the Eagles failed to cash in, with Caleb Sturgis missing wide left on a 45-yard field-goal attempt.
After nearly intercepting Taylor earlier in the game, Darby was determined not to squander his second chance.
"I was like, 'OK, this is my second chance to make something happen,'" he said. "So I was like, 'I can't miss this one up.' You only get two chances in a game, so I just took advantage of it."
The Bills traded Darby to Philadelphia last Friday in exchange for wide receiver Jordan Matthews (who sat out Thursday night's game with a chip fracture of his sternum) and a third-round draft pick.
"I was real shocked, me being as young as I am," Darby said. "I just happened. I never thought I'd experience it so early in my career, but at the end of the day, you've got to look at everything as a blessing.
"At the end of the day, Buffalo knows what's best. I respect everyone over there – great players, great people, great community."
LeSean McCoy made his first appearance of the preseason Thursday night.
The former Eagles running back, who was in the game through the first quarter, carried four times for 21 yards.
McCoy, who was in uniform but did not play in the 17-10 preseason-opening loss against the Minnesota Vikings, picked up a pair of first downs on runs of 13 and 10 yards before coming out for the rest of the night.
E.J. Gaines, the cornerback the Bills added as part of the trade that sent wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams, had an interception of a Matt McGloin pass in the third quarter.
There were no surprises on the list of Bills players who weren't in uniform Thursday night.
Left tackle Cordy Glenn, who has been bothered by chronic soreness in his left foot, was the headliner. He recently traveled to Wisconsin to get an injection in the foot that coach Sean McDermott said he hoped would "knock out" the soreness.
Seantrel Henderson made his second straight preseason start in Glenn's place.
Others not playing for the Bills were safety Bacarri Rambo (hamstring), wide receiver Jeremy Butler (concussion) and newly acquired wideout and former Eagle Jordan Matthews (chip fracture of the sternum).
The Rams didn't let Watkins' history of foot trouble stop them from acquiring him in last Friday's trade with the Bills, but they're looking to do what they can to try to prevent him from additional problems.
Rams General Manager Les Snead told SiriusXM NFL Radio that the team was planning to have Watkins wear shoes it hoped would at least help minimize the receiver's chances for re-injury. Watkins twice has undergone surgery to address a stress fracture in his left foot that caused him to miss most of the 2016 season.
"In this league, the shoe thing is a very big deal," Snead said. "And I think getting him in the proper shoes and there's a lot of technology, a lot of smart engineers going into developing shoes for these athletes ... the type of torques and pressures they're putting on their bones when you get out of a break.
"I can't say that (his shoes) will be special or different from Buffalo, but it is one where you do sit down with him, sit down, in our case, with Nike and try to figure out, based on the medical research, based on all the data that we have, what's the best shoe for him?"
According to Snead, the Rams began "flirting with the Bills" about a possible Watkins trade last spring, after Buffalo declined picking up the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.
"But it ended up working out for us and then we felt like that was a piece of the puzzle, a nice complement to the things we had done this offseason to try to get this offense to the next level," Snead said, adding that Watkins was joining his new team at the "worst time" for him because his missed the offensive installation during OTAs and training camp.
"So I know what (coach) Sean (McVay) wants to do is get a feel for Sammy, how he's learning," Snead said. "He's been doing great so far, but I do think what they will do as we get into game plan for games is, 'Where's Sammy at? How comfortable is he? How many plays can we actually give him?'"
An NFL statement accusing the NFL Players Association of smearing Ezekiel Elliott's accuser in the aftermath of the league's six-game suspension of the Dallas Cowboys running back for violating its personal-conduct policy has drawn harsh words from Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander.
During an appearance on Pro Football Talk Live, Alexander, a member of the NFLPA's executive committee, called the statement "really appalling" and said he's "not comfortable at all" with the NFL's disciplinary system.
“We’re about representing our players at the end of the day and making sure they’re getting a fair and just trial whenever they’re going through anything with management,” Alexander said. “Things are not fair or consistent. They’re really all over the place. You can have two players do the same exact thing and get two different punishments.”
Alexander also criticized the fact that former league employee Harold Henderson will be handling Elliott's appeal of the suspension because Henderson has worked in that capacity multiple times since leaving the NFL.
“He’s in-house, he’s an NFL employee," Alexander said. "And obviously he works for (commissioner) Roger Goodell and they’re going to talk about it and come out to the same decision. He’s just passing the buck who’s going to oversee the case. We feel the same whether it’s Roger or Mr. Henderson doing the hearing."
Besides the five former Bills players now with the Eagles (offensive tackle Jason Peters, linebacker Nigel Bradham, safety Corey Graham, Ron Brooks and Darby), there are two coaching connections.
Former Bills quarterback Frank Reich is entering his second season as the Eagles' offensive coordinator. Jim Schwartz, the Bills' defensive coordinator in 2014, is beginning his second year in the same capacity with the Eagles.
Peters and Brooks did not play Thursday night.
Brooks, wearing street clothes, was the only player on either team to kneel on the sidelines during the playing of the national anthem.
Bills wide receiver Rod Streater, who had a strong training camp, left the field on a cart in the fourth quarter with a toe injury. In a touching scene, all of the players left the bench area to surround the cart before it carried Streater off.
Rookie tight end Jason Croom left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury, while safety Trae Elston exited in the fourth with an injured hamstring.
Safety Colt Anderson didn't play after a recurrence of a foot problem during pregame warmups. Anderson had been activated from the physically unable to perform list, on which he landed with the foot issue.