The flight home from Los Angeles provided Sean McDermott and Lorenzo Alexander time for a heart-to-heart talk.
The Buffalo Bills’ veteran coach wanted to know from his veteran linebacker how he could be best utilized.
“Obviously playing on the edge is one of the things that I've done in the past and I've done the most,” Alexander said Thursday. “Being able to rush the passer on third downs, being able to roam around a little bit, whether it's dropping or coming, I think I do that well. Disguising.”
McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier listened, and came up with a plan best suited for Alexander’s skills in Week 12 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
That involved using Ramon Humber and Matt Milano as nickel linebackers next to Preston Brown.
“Just because they're playing well,” Alexander said. “Playing at a higher level, I think, than what I do. I can do it, but it's not my strength.”
Alexander played just 20 snaps against the Chiefs – his fewest of the season – but had a sack and otherwise helped the Bills disguise what they were doing defensively.
“We needed to be able to have some flexibility with one of our rushers where you add to the rush, but sometimes you drop it,” Frazier said. “Sometimes, you’re coming off the edge, but sometimes you’re spying the quarterback because this guy’s – he’s unique with his scrambling abilities. The one guy on our defensive line that had those capabilities and was most apt to be able to do that was Lorenzo, so we wanted to be able to utilize his talents in that way and he played a heck of a game for us.”
The Chiefs converted just 2 of 13 third downs, with Frazier calling Alexander “instrumental” in the Bills’ success there.
“He did a lot of things with his movement, with his rush, his dropping coverage,” he said. “That kind of created some confusion for their offensive line and I’d venture to say even their quarterback at times. He did a heck of a job for us.”
Alexander credited McDermott and Frazier for finding ways to put players in a position to be successful.
He's a unique individual in terms of what skills he brings to the table,” McDermott said. “We play him at linebacker. He plays defensive line. Maybe he'll play safety. We'll see.”
McDermott was kidding about that last part. We think.
Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (knee), tight end Nick O’Leary (back), running back Mike Tolbert (hamstring), left tackle Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), guard John Miller (ankle) and fullback Patrick DiMarco (ankle) missed practice Thursday for the Bills.
DiMarco suffered his injury in Wednesday’s practice, but McDermott said it doesn’t appear to be serious. The team is also continuing to classify Benjamin as “day to day” as he deals with a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Tight end Charles Clay (knee), wide receiver Jordan Matthews (knee) and defensive end Eddie Yarbrough (chest) were limited practice participants. Running back LeSean McCoy was added to the injury report. He was listed as a full participant with a knee injury.
Wide receiver Chris Hogan (shoulder) and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle) missed practice Thursday for the Patriots for the second day in a row. A whopping 10 players were listed as limited on New England’s injury report, including quarterback Tom Brady, who sat out practice with an Achilles injury. He’s expected to play Sunday.
Story topics: Charles Clay/ Cordy Glenn/ Eddie Yarbrough/ John Miller/ Jordan Matthews/ Kelvin Benjamin/ LeSean McCoy/ Leslie Frazier/ Lorenzo Alexander/ Mike Tolbert/ Nick O'Leary/ Patrick DiMarco/ Sean McDermott