EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Kelvin Benjamin's debut with the Buffalo Bills will have to wait.
The wide receiver, acquired Tuesday in a trade with the Carolina Panthers, went through warmups with the Bills prior to Thursday night's game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, but was declared inactive a short time later.
"He only had a small amount of time to get up to speed," Bills coach Sean McDermott said after the 34-21 loss. "The guys that did play put in the time during the week. We want to do things the right way as far as that goes."
Given that Benjamin has such little time with his new team, it's not a total surprise he was inactive. The decision to sit fellow wide receiver Brandon Tate, however, does qualify as that.
Tate ranks fourth in the NFL in punt return average, at 11.3 yards per attempt. He also had a clutch 24-yard reception in the third quarter of Sunday's win over the Oakland Raiders, picking up a first down on a second-and-20 play.
In his place, the Bills used safety Micah Hyde as the punt returner. He gained 18 yards on two attempts, and made three fair catches.
Left guard Richie Incognito railed against the Thursday night games following the loss.
"You know, it's tough man. These Thursday night games, they (stink)," he said. "They throw a wrench in our schedule. It's absolutely ridiculous that we have to do this.
"As physical as this game is and as much preparation that goes into this, to force us to play games on four-day weeks, it's completely unfair and bull----. Whatever. The league makes money off of it, and that's all they care about anyway."
Safety Jordan Poyer returned after missing Week Eight with a knee injury. He had seven tackles, including one for a loss, but wasn't pleased with his effort.
"First of all, I played terrible," he said. "I missed way too many tackles. ... It wasn't a good day for us."
Poyer said his knee did not bother him during the game.
"There's no excuse to not tackle," he said. "That's what we get paid to do. ... I expect a lot more out of myself. I let the guys down. I know myself and I know this team – the kind of guys we have – and we can bounce back from it."
Linebacker Ramon Humber also returned after missing three games with a broken thumb. He finished with seven tackles, including two for losses.
Guard John Miller, cornerback E.J. Gaines (hamstring), tight end Charles Clay (knee) and offensive tackles Conor McDermott and Seantrel Henderson joined Tate and Benjamin as the Bills' inactives.
Miller has now been a healthy inactive for four straight games after starting the first four of the season.
Not playing is foreign to Miller. He made 47 career starts in college at Louisville, then started all 28 games in which he appeared in his first two professional seasons.
"Initially, I didn't look at it as a learning experience," he said. "Sitting back and seeing another guy do my job, it pushed me more to prove myself – not only on the field, but off the field as well. I've had a lot of time to do a lot of self-reflecting and kind of recreate myself in a sense. I'm always trying to evolve and continue to grow as a player and as a person.
"I think I've handled myself very professionally. It's definitely a humbling experience, because going to college I started as a true freshman, played all four years, and coming here to the Bills, I started as a rookie. It's a new situation, a humbling situation, and all I can do is put my best foot forward in practice and give the team all I've got. I'm focusing on the things I can control, and that's my attitude and my mindset."
Hyde became the first defensive back in Bills history to be named AFC Defensive Player of the Month. He received the honor Thursday after recording four interceptions last month.
Hyde, who joined the Bills in the offseason as a free agent from the Green Bay Packers, has been the catalyst in allowing the Bills to lead the league with 17 takeaways and in turnover margin at plus-14 entering Thursday's game. His five interceptions lead the NFL. Beside having a remarkable nose for the ball, he also had 22 tackles and broke up six passes in October.
The Jets got one starting cornerback back in the lineup, but were without another. Morris Clairborne was inactive because of a foot injury, but Buster Skrine was back after missing Week Eight because of a concussion.
Cornerback Rashard Robinson, acquired Tuesday by the Jets in a trade with San Francisco, made his debut for New York, while defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, who was questionable because of foot and shoulder injuries, was in the lineup.