Forget looking past the Miami Dolphins to what may be ahead regarding his future with the Buffalo Bills.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor wasn’t even looking past his next hour or so Wednesday afternoon.
“I haven’t thought much about it. I’m focused on a great lunch today after practice, and focused on great meetings after that,” Taylor said with a sly smile when asked how much he’s considered Sunday’s season finale could be his final appearance in a Bills uniform. “As a competitor, it’s a great opportunity for us to rise to the occasion as a team and individually. Meaningful football – I’ve said this a couple of times this year – meaningful football in December, and especially the last weekend of games, basically takes us into the playoffs. It boils down, like I said, to us executing and us going out there and playing our best game. I’m excited for the opportunity as well as all the guys in the locker room are excited; as well as the coaches. We’re taking it day by day until we get there and play it out on the field.”
What happens after that remains to be seen. The Bills are still alive in the playoff race, but need some help even if they beat the Dolphins. Playoffs or not, the conversation about Taylor will boil down to the same question whenever the season ends – has he done enough to convince the front office to bring him back?
“Everybody knows what’s at stake, and everyone knows we need our best performance this Sunday,” Taylor said. “We’re preparing that way, this week. As far as on game day, if you look up (at the scoreboard), or you don’t, we still have a job to do, and that’s where your focus needs to be. I believe that’s where everyone’s focus will be.
Taylor’s Week 15 performance against the Dolphins continued what has been a trend of solid play against the Bills’ AFC East rival. In five starts against Miami, he has gone 89 of 137 for 1,232 yards and nine touchdowns in addition to rushing 38 times for 193 yards and two more scores.
“I’m aware, unfortunately,” Dolphins coach Adam Gase said on a conference call with the Buffalo media Wednesday. “I think he has done a great job of one, protecting the football, and I think he has done a great job where a lot of guys, when they play our defensive front, they do panic, and those guys get to them, where he has done a good job of staying in the pocket and when he does see a lane or he can get outside of the pocket, he does it and really hurts us when he does, whether he runs it or they scramble drill us and we don’t stay tight on the defender or stay tight on the receiver and he gets us for a big play.
“I think his patience has just been really good against us. He is not affected as much as some of the other guys that we’ve played with our pass rush. He just does a good job of taking each play as it comes. If something bad is going on, he’s finding a way to get out of it.”
Taylor couldn’t pinpoint, or didn’t want to give away his secrets to success when it comes to facing the Dolphins.
“Definitely a team that I like to play against,” he said. “They’re a talented group. Of course, they’re in our division; and any time you get a chance to play a team twice, you definitely know those guys. It’s a big rivalry game for us. Everyone gets pumped up for that game, myself included.”
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Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (knee), center Ryan Groy (illness), defensive tackle Kyle Williams (groin) and cornerback Shareece Wright (concussion) did not practice Wednesday.
Benjamin and Williams have been held out of several practices in recent weeks as they play through their injuries, while Groy got sick overnight, coach Sean McDermott said. Wright was hurt against the Patriots in Week 16.
Cornerback E.J. Gaines practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. His return after missing the New England game would be important for the defense, particularly if his replacement, Wright, can’t play. Tight end Charles Clay was also a limited participant as he continues to manage a knee injury, while wide receiver Deonte Thompson (back) was a full participant.
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Gase said Wednesday that quarterback Jay Cutler will start against the Bills, but left open the possibility of playing someone else at the position.
“We’ll see how the game goes,” Gase said. “Jay hasn’t done anything to come out. There’s no reason for him to come out of the game right now.”
The Dolphins listed a whopping 13 players on their injury report Wednesday, including eight who did not participate.
“First of all, we’ve got to figure out who’s going to be healthy,” Gase said. “We do have some guys banged up and we’ve had to make some roster moves. If we can put certain guys in the game that we haven’t played yet, that’s always great. We’ve just got to see how the week goes, who’s available and we’ll go from there. I’m sure all of us would like to see certain guys play that haven’t had a chance to play, but at the same time, there’s other guys that earned those spots for a reason.”
Included on the list of those not practicing for the Dolphins were tight end MarQueis Gray (hip), defensive end Charles Harris (thigh), safety T.J. McDonald (shoulder), center Mike Pouncey (hip), defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (knee), tackle Laremy Tunsil (ankle), defensive end Cameron Wake (not injury related) and safety Michael Thomas (not injury related).