No one would argue that LeSean McCoy is the lone difference-maker the Buffalo Bills have on offense.
In case there was even the tiniest doubt about that, however, Sean McDermott did his best to remove it Wednesday.
"The work load, whatever it takes to win the game," the coach told reporters as the Bills began preparing in earnest for Sunday's regular-season opener against the New York Jets. "That's how we play the game. We play to win, and whatever it takes to win the game, that's what we're going to do. If it means he needs to play every snap, that's what we'll do. If he's feeling good, like it is for every player.
"Look him in the eye, say, 'How you feel? Feel good. Let's go.' No different for LeSean."
McCoy, who ran for 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns last year while averaging 5.4 yards per carry, said he will handle whatever load McDermott wants to give him.
"I’m a player, I like to play, I like to compete," he said. "Guys on other teams, I’m sure the Jets, they’ll tell you that, that I like to compete. I’m always up for a challenge, but I am human, and I think that" in "football, guys get tired, they come out. That’s what building a whole roster is all about. You have these preseason games, guys are scouting players and evaluating how good they are, that’s what it’s for. So if something happens, you have a guy that can play.
"... If I’m a coach, I’m going to play my guys, the best players. But you build a team because anything can happen in this game. It’s a physical game, it’s four quarters, and you have to build the depth. We’ll be fine, our backfield is strong."
The depth behind McCoy is one of the question marks entering the season. After saying goodbye to Mike Gillislee (who ran for 577 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per rush last season) and Jonathan Williams, the Bills are left with Joe Banyard and fullback Mike Tolbert as their primary reserves.
Tolbert had 114 yards and averaged 3.3 yards a carry in Carolina last season. McDermott was asked if he had decided whether McCoy or Tolbert would get the bulk of carries near the goal-line.
"No, it's all part of the game plan," McDermott said. "That'll be worked out through the week. But as I've said before, the great thing about both those guys is they put the team first. That's the approach of the whole football team, it's a team-first mentality."
Center Eric Wood, quarterback Tyrod Taylor, linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, defensive tackle Kyle Williams and kicker Stephen Hauschka were elected by their teammates to represent the Bills as captains for the upcoming season.
"It's definitely an honor," said Wood, who along with Williams has previously served as a season-long captain for the team. "I've always said, any time your teammates and coaches vote on anything and you get recognized, that's a big deal. Just to recognized by your peers is an honor."
Having permanent captains is a change from last season, when coach Rex Ryan rotated his captains for games each week. That led some to believe he was making a mockery of the job, like when he had defensive end IK Enemkpali serve as a captain against the New York Jets – the team that cut him for sucker-punching quarterback Geno Smith.
"I always thought that when you had a 'C' on your chest, it gave you a little bit more of a voice," Wood said. "And the past few years, while we did have a core group of leadership, you know there was a bunch of other guys involved in that, too. Sometimes it's like, 'I don't know how someone on defense might receive me trying to say something to them, just because I'm not necessarily a captain. They don't know me. But when you come into a team, you say, 'oh, that's a captain. He's got a voice.' So I think there's some merit to having that 'C' on your chest."
Taylor and Wood are the offensive captains, while Alexander and Williams represent the defense. Hauschka, meanwhile, is the representative for special teams, despite being new to the team this year – unlike the other four captains.
"I've been pumped to be here all spring and get to know the guys," he said. "A lot of the team is new if you look at the roster. I'm really honored to be elected captain by my teammates."
Hauschka said being included in a group with players like his four fellow captains is particularly special.
"They're awesome leaders," he said. "I'll lead with them and help get this team on the right track."
Taylor was officially cleared from concussion protocol and practiced fully Wednesday. McDermott confirmed he would start against the Jets.
Asked what Taylor had to prove to him this season, the coach channeled his inner Bill Belichick.
"Go out and do his job," the coach said. "Be one-eleventh. We use that term 'one-eleventh,' and it's another way of saying, 'Do your job. Be one-eleventh of the offense.' And that's what I expect, that's what I expect him to do, that's what I expect of myself, that's what I expect of every player.
"Do your job."
Offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, who had been dealing with a sore foot, and wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who is recovering from a chip fracture of his sternum, also were full practice participants.
Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (hip) and safety Colt Anderson (foot) were limited.
Defensive lineman Jerel Worthy (concussion) and linebacker Tanner Vallejo (knee) didn't practice.