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Bills Notebook: Andre Holmes makes ex-team pay, Matt Milano shines

Andre Holmes is batting .272 this season.

The Buffalo Bills' lanky wide receiver has 11 catches in 2017, three of which have gone for touchdowns. One of those came Sunday in the Buffalo Bills' 34-14 win over Oakland. Holmes had three catches for 51 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown in the second quarter against his old team in helping the Bills improve to 5-2.

"I had it on my calendar when the schedule came out," said Holmes, who was with the Raiders from 2013-16. "I was really excited to compete against my old teammates and team."

Holmes' three catches and 51 receiving yards are both season highs with the Bills. He had a 36-yard reception in the third quarter on the touchdown drive that put the Bills up, 27-7.

"He didn't say it, but I've been in that situation – a number of guys have been in that situation in this league – you could just get the feel for it," quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. "You could see it in his eyes in pregame. Of course he wants to go out and show those coaches and also the players he played with last year and in previous years that he can come out here and continue to keep competing.

"This team has a bunch of free agents and a bunch of people that wasn't necessarily drafted by this organization, so in a big sense it's kind of a team built around guys that maybe have been turned down by other organizations. He had an opportunity to prove that organization wrong, and he did it."

Holmes' touchdown catch came after Taylor extended the play and found him in the back-left corner.

"We've gotten a lot of work in on that in the games. We're used to, when he has to make a play out of the pocket, we're used to finding a way," Holmes said. "You learn that real early on, where the spots are that you need to be when the quarterback comes out of pocket. We executed it well today."

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Preston Brown sees firsthand just how much work rookie linebacker Matt Milano puts in.

"We're roommates on the road, so I see him in his playbook all night," Brown said Sunday.

Milano's hard work led to him playing a big part in the win, as returned a fumble 40 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to put the Bills up, 14-7, before halftime. "He's doing a great job, finding the ball, scoring touchdowns, getting picks. He's doing something every week, so it's great to have a playmaker back there. That was definitely a turn in the game right there."

Milano was in perfect position to secure the ball after cornerback Leonard Johnson knocked it away from Raiders running back DeAndre Washington. After that, he was off to the races.

"The ball was up and I saw it and I made a play," Milano said. "It just happened so fast. I really wasn't thinking anything. I was just excited to score and help my team win."

The Bills recorded at least three takeaways for the fourth straight game, the longest such active streak in the NFL.

"It's just happening for me now," Milano said. "I think it's happening for everybody on our defense, that we're just always trying to get the ball out. ... It's definitely contagious, once somebody gets one, then everybody's trying to get one, you know?"

Milano made his third career start in place of the injured Ramon Humber. The team's coaching staff has maintained that Humber will get his starting role back when healthy, but coach Sean McDermott was asked Sunday if it will be tough to take Milano out.

"Matt looked like, at least on the surface, he had a big game," McDermott said. "The great part about Matt is he continues to learn and make big-time jumps in between one outing to another outing. He's made the most of his opportunity and that's, you know, I love those hard decisions. Ramon's a good football player. It's a good thing for us, a good problem to have, and when you're developing young players that are getting significant playing-time experience, that's big."

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Safety Jordan Poyer was inactive Sunday after being listed as questionable coming into the game. Poyer did not practice all week after suffering a knee injury on the last play of the game in Week Seven against Tampa Bay.

Additionally, cornerback E.J. Gaines was out with a hamstring injury suffered against the Bucs. Shareece Wright started in his place, while Trae Elston replaced Poyer.

Also inactive for the Bills on Sunday were: Right guard John Miller, Humber (thumb), tight end Charles Clay (knee) and offensive tackles Conor McDermott and Seantrel Henderson. Vlad Ducasse made his third straight start at right guard, while Nick O'Leary started in place of Clay.

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The late Cookie Gilchrist was added to the Buffalo Bills' Wall of Fame at New Era Field. Steve Tasker emceed the ceremony, which included Gilchrist's family as well as Bills alumni, including Booker Edgerson and Paul Maguire.

Teammate and fellow Wall of Fame honoree Edgerson called Gilchrist "the Buffalo Bills' very first franchise player" in his remarks, which outlined the dynamic running back's accomplishments in the 1960s for the Bills of the American Football League.

"It's a great privilege to have the honor to welcome my brother and forever friend" to the Wall of Fame, Edgerson said. "Cookie was a very colorful person. Cookie was loved by his teammates and feared by opponents."

With that, pyrotechnics accompanied the unveiling of Gilchrist's name and No. 34 on the tunnel side of the stadium. Gilchrist's name is beside Lou Saban's and above Edgerson and Phil Hansen.

News Deputy Sports Editor Keith McShea contributed to this report.

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