Preston Brown watched this offseason as, one by one, the Buffalo Bills said goodbye to his veteran teammates.
Stephon Gilmore? Off to New England. Aaron Williams and Corey Graham? Cut. Robert Woods? Back home to L.A. Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby? Sent on their way in trades.
"I mean we traded away some good players, some good players signed other places, but I think it made us more of a team,” Brown said Thursday morning during an appearance on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football." "We know we can’t depend on Sammy Watkins to catch a 70-yard bomb. We gotta drive the ball down the field, play keep away, work field position, get great punts from Colton Schmidt and we’ve been working well.
"I I mean, we've been working together as three phases. It’s been going well as a team defense, a team offense. We’ve been going great, so it’s just trying to keep that team mindset, not individuals.”
After the Bills finished practice Thursday, Brown further explained what he meant.
"I feel like, football is the biggest team sport there is. There's the most guys, 11 guys out there. So you've really got to depend on one another. It's not like basketball. If you've got LeBron James, you're going to be better," he said. "But with football, if guys buy into the process, everybody does their job, you're going to go out there and be better than what you were. That's what we've been doing. Guys have been playing together, filling their role, and we're getting wins, so I think it's working."
Asked whether he felt that the Bills were too based on individuals last year, Brown didn't exactly say no.
"I'm not sure if we were too individually based, but everybody didn't get it," he said. "If it was too hard for some guys or some guys didn't buy in, I'm not sure. But I can see a difference this year, which is exciting to see how it's one team and one goal. It's not about how many sacks you've got or how many catches you've got."
The Bills are No. 1 is scoring defense at 13.5 points per game allowed, have given up just four touchdowns and rank eighth in yards against per game (306.0).
"It's a lot easier for guys," Brown said. "Ok, this is what we've got to do. Guys have bought in. The safeties we got in free agency, our two corners are playing so well. And then our D-line has been here forever, but now they're back to doing what they love to do, which is get after the quarterback. It's been great to see how we can get right back to what we were accustomed to doing. Now you can see the success starting to happen."
Brown, who is second on the team with 30 tackles, is heading home to Cincinnati this weekend to face the Bengals.
"It's always fun to go back and play in front of your family and friends, but know we've got to go out there and get a big win," he said.
It's looking good for Shaq Lawson to return to the lineup after sitting out Week Four because of a groin injury. Lawson was a full practice participant Thursday after being limited Wednesday.
"He looked good today at practice," coach Sean McDermott said. "I thought today was better than yesterday. We just continue on that climb of getting him back to full health at this point."
Safety Micah Hyde (knee) was upgraded to a limited participant after sitting out Wednesday. Tight end Charles Clay also practiced fully after missing Wednesday's practice because of a death in the family.
Defensive end Eddie Yarbrough was added to the injury report. He was listed as a limited participant with a back injury. Also practicing on a limited basis were left tackle Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (ankle), cornerback E.J. Gaines (groin) and cornerback Shareece Wright (back).
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews (thumb) and linebacker Ramon Humber (thumb) were the only players not to practice. They will not play in Week Five after both had surgery.
According to a report from ESPN's Field Yates, former Bills quarterback T.J. Yates worked out for the Bengals on Thursday, along with fellow quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Matt McGloin.
Cincinnati right tackle Jake Fisher was added to the Bengals' injury report Thursday because of a back injury. He was a limited participant. Tight end Tyler Eifert (back) and wide receiver John Ross (knee) did not practice Thursday and are not expected to play.
Defensive end Eric Lee joined the Bills' practice squad Thursday. Lee was released from the 53-man roster earlier this week after being promoted from the practice squad prior to the Week Four game in Atlanta.