Another week, another deep threat for the Buffalo Bills’ secondary to keep an eye on.
Miami’s Kenny Stills will come to town Sunday averaging 15.0 yards per catch. Over the past three weeks, the Bills have faced three of the league’s top 13 players in that statistic, starting with Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill (No. 13 at 15.4 yards per reception), followed by New England’s Brandin Cooks (fifth at 17.1) and Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton (No. 2 at 18.9). Stills is 19th in the NFL.
“Those guys are best at getting down the field and beating teams with one big play,” Bills cornerback E.J. Gaines said Thursday. “We can't allow that.”
For the most part, they haven’t. Buffalo has allowed just three receptions of 40-plus yards this season. That ranks tied for third in the NFL, behind just Atlanta (one) and the LA Chargers (two).
“It comes down to rush and coverage. The pass rush getting there and the coverage holding enough to let them get there,” Gaines said. “It works together. I think this football team does that well.”
The Bills have given up just 11 passing touchdowns, which leads the league. Stills, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker have combined for 178 catches, 1,950 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“All three of them can make big plays for their quarterback. That's something we have to contain as a secondary, and I think we're up for the challenge,” Gaines said.
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The injury report keeps looking better for the Bills' quarterbacks.
Starter Tyrod Taylor and rookie backup Nathan Peterman were both listed as full practice participants Thursday as the team continues to get ready for Sunday's must-win home game against the Miami Dolphins. Guard John Miller (ankle) was the only player not on the practice field as the Bills are in good shape with injuries for Week 15 of the season.
Peterman remains in the NFL's concussion protocol, but there was a hint that he might be available to play Sunday in that No. 3 quarterback Joe Webb wore a blue practice jersey as opposed to the red jersey a quarterback usually wears.
"He still played quarterback for us. He did some other stuff, normal special-teams work. No change really," coach Sean McDermott said.
McDermott would not totally commit to Taylor and Peterman being ready to play against the Dolphins, saying, "I hope, but I won't know really until the end of the day tomorrow."
Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, meanwhile, was a limited participant in practice. It's far less certain that he'll be able to play against Miami.
"He's working," McDermott said. "He did a little bit more today than he did yesterday."
Defensive tackle Kyle Williams (groin), left tackle Cordy Glenn (foot/ankle), tight end Charles Clay (knee) and wide receiver Andre Holmes (neck) were also limited participants.
Running back LeSean McCoy was a full participant after being limited Wednesday because of a knee injury.
"We're just trying to be smart overall with his situation," McDermott said.
McCoy has 239 carries with three games to play, surpassing the 234 he had all of last season.
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Wide receiver Jordan Matthews tweeted Thursday afternoon that he had surgery on his left knee knee and right ankle. According to his Twitter post, the injuries have been bothering him for the last two years.
Matthews was placed on injured reserve by the Bills on Dec. 5. He finished his first season in Buffalo with 25 catches for 282 yards and one touchdown after being acquired in August as part of the trade that sent cornerback Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles.
"The doctors are confident that I will come back and be 100% (I'm thinking 110!), so I’m excited to get the ball rolling on rehab! Nothing hurts more than being unable to do what you love at a high level,” Matthews tweeted.
Matthews will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.