Concern over a possible letdown as the 3-1 Buffalo Bills face the 1-3 Cincinnati Bengals might be floating around outside of the team.
Inside, according to Tyrod Taylor, there are no such worries.
"Not at all," the quarterback said Wednesday. "One of the things that Coach (Sean) McDermott preaches to us each and every day is just our consistent approach, trusting the process, not making one game bigger than the other, continuing to keep preparing the way that we do, we're going to continue to keep practicing the way that we do. And we've just got to continue to keep finding a way, day by day, focusing on getting better than we were the week before."
McDermott said center Eric Wood and defensive tackle Kyle Williams have reminded their teammates of what happened the last time the Bills were flying high before a game at Cincinnati. That was in 2011, when the Bills were 3-0 and proceeded to suffer a 23-20 loss to the Bengals, who had been 1-2.
The Bills proceeded to finish the season 6-10, while the Bengals went on to a 9-7 record and a wild-card playoff berth.
"The great part about this team is we have a ton of leaders on this team that make their presence known in and around the building and in the locker room in particular," McDermott said. "They lead by example, and then verbally as well. Those guys have made it very clear what it was like years ago, when the team had a good start and didn't stay focused on the process."
"Everyone in that locker room, I would say, plays with a chip on their shoulder," Taylor said. "There's something that we have to prove each and every week. We're 3-1 right now, but that doesn't necessarily change our mindset. We'll continue to keep grinding away, focusing on our fundamentals and just keeping that hungry attitude each week as we approach game days on Sundays."
* * *
Bills offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, who missed the last two games with foot and ankle problems, returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis.
Otherwise, the Bills had a long list of players who didn't participate due to injury and other reasons.
Those who sat out with injuries were wide receiver Jordan Matthews (thumb), safety Micah Hyde (knee), and linebacker Ramon Humber (thumb).
Tight end Charles Clay was excused because of a death in his family, while linebacker Lorenzo Alexander and defensive tackle Kyle Williams were given the day off to rest.
Besides Glenn, other players who saw limited action were defensive end Shaq Lawson (groin), defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (ankle), cornerback E.J. Gaines (groin), wide receiver Kaelin Clay (back) and running back Taiwan Jones (knee).
Running backs LeSean McCoy (wrist) and Mike Tolbert (thumb), and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy (thumb) were full participants.
* * *
The lack of production from wide receiver and Matthews’ indefinite absence due to thumb surgery haven’t shaken McDermott’s resolve (at least not publicly), nor has it dimmed his expectations for his offense.
“It’s never easy to lose a player, any player, but also a player of that quality and caliber with Jordan Matthews. But we’re not limited,” the coach said pointedly. “We move forward and that’s what good teams do. It’s a ‘next man up' approach and I expect whoever that next man is, in this case, at the wide receiver position, to step up and do his job.”
Matthews’ injury might have cleared a roster spot for Philly Brown, whom the Bills re-signed Tuesday, but McDermott maintained he has always felt good about the guys at the position.
“First of all, I want to make this known that we have confidence in the guys in our receiving room,” said the coach. "Philly is a guy that's played in games, he knows the system. He knows what we’re looking for, he knows what it’s like to play in big games. For all those reasons, we felt like it was the right time and we’re actually going to take a look at him today and see how he looks."
* * *
For the second week in a row, Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka has been named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Hauschka hit all three of the field goals he attempted in Sunday's 23-17 victory against the Atlanta Falcons, including 56- and 55-yarders in the fourth quarter that provided the margin of victory. His three field goals from 55 yards or beyond are a Bills record.
Hauschka is eight-for-eight on field goals in his last three games, including 53- and 55-yarders against the Denver Broncos. With 11 straight connections of 50 yards or longer, he is one shy of the NFL record.
Hauschka joins Hall of Famer Bruce Smith and Cornelius Bennett as the only Bills to win a Player of the Week Award in consecutive weeks.
* * *
The Bills' defense leads the NFL in one category at the quarter mark of the season, and it's the one that matters most: fewest points allowed. They've given up only 54. They're ninth in total yards allowed (306.5 per game) and fifth in yards per play against (4.7).
The numbers aren't nearly so rosy on the offensive side. The Bills are 31st in passing at 171.5 yards per game, ahead of only the Baltimore Ravens. It's interesting to note that the five teams with the fewest yards in the NFL in passing, and seven of the lowest eight, are in the AFC. The absence of Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill is a factor, along with the brutal starts of Blake Bortles and Joe Flacco.
But the Bills' ranking low in passing is nothing new. They finished 30th in passing yards last season and 28th in 2015. Taylor doesn't throw it a lot, but he's efficient and doesn't make many mistakes. His quarterback rating of 100.7 is tied for seventh in the league with the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers.
The alarming thing is that the Bills are not running the ball well, either. They're 16th in rushing yards, but only 27th in yards per rush at 3.4. They led the league in rushing and yards per carry the last two seasons.
* * *
Besides the two players they signed, Brown and safety Shamarko Thomas, the Bills also took a look at a couple of running backs Tuesday.
Jalen Simmons and Brandon Wilds also were at One Bills Drive for workouts, The News learned.
The Bills' depth behind McCoy isn't all that special. Fullback Mike Tolbert functions as the No. 2 back, while the rest of the depth chart includes Joe Banyard and Taiwan Jones.
News Sports Columnists Kimberley A. Martin and Jerry Sullivan contributed to this report.