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Four Bills key defensive contributors out for Sunday's game in Miami

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Bills Titans third

Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde (23) is carted off the field with an injury during the third quarter Monday night at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.

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The expected became official Friday: The Buffalo Bills will be quite shorthanded on defense Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. 

Head coach Sean McDermott announced before practice that defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, safety Micah Hyde and cornerback Dane Jackson all had been ruled out for Week 3. After practice, the team ruled out defensive tackle Ed Oliver on its final injury report. 

Jackson and Hyde were both taken to the hospital for evaluations of neck injuries after Monday's victory against Tennessee.

"They're both coming off of obviously significant situations, serious situations, like all injuries, in particular, when it involves the areas of the body that theirs did," McDermott said. "So really going anything beyond that I think would be irresponsible on my part because I really don't know anything more. They both seem to be moving around or walking around or in the building here. They're in there going about their business, trying to improve each and every day. Obviously not going to make this game. Other than that, I don't have anything else for you at this point. We're just going to work with them on their on their cadence and their timing at this point."

Phillips has a hamstring injury and did not practice at all this week. Oliver, meanwhile, was a limited practice participant all week, but still isn't ready to return after hurting his ankle in the Week 1 win over the Rams. 

The Bills list five players as questionable to face the Dolphins: Safety Jordan Poyer (foot), wide receiver Gabe Davis (ankle), tight end Dawson Knox (foot), center Mitch Morse (elbow) and defensive tackle Tim Settle (calf). All practiced on a limited basis Friday. 

Davis told reporters Thursday that he was "100%" optimistic that he would be able to play after suffering the injury in practice last Saturday and missing the game against the Titans. 

Poyer was hurt during the Bills' win over the Titans.

"We're just going to take that one day at a time," McDermott said. "He's one of those that are in that group. We've got a couple of those guys, maybe three or four of them, that still remains to be seen what they're going to be able to get done Sunday. I'll know a little bit more today. It may not still be definitive after today, but we'll take it one day at a time."

Poyer was not in the locker room after practice Friday when it was open to reporters. With Hyde and Jackson already ruled out, the Bills will likely turn to rookies Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford as their starters at cornerback and fourth-year veteran Jaquan Johnson at safety. 

"Very confident in our football team," McDermott said. "I know we have a number of injuries here, but I remain very confident in our football team, and very confident in the back end in particular."

Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel seemed equally confident in the Bills' defense.

"It doesn’t necessarily change anything because they don’t change," he told reporters Friday. "They play a ton of zone defense with the same structure that having those guys out isn’t going to change them. To their credit, they are assignment oriented. They play unbelievable with each other. So they’re going to be just as impactful. ...  They’ve lost some playmakers, but they ask everyone to really make plays and fully commit to the task at hand.”

Return of 1 p.m. Sunday

Bills fans probably remember what it's like when their team played 16 regular-season games at 1 p.m. Sunday. It's safe to say, those days are long gone. Dating to last year's regular-season finale, the Bills have played five consecutive games that kicked off at a time other than the usual 1 p.m. Sunday slot -- a streak that will end against Miami. 

"That's something to be aware of, too," McDermott said. "I want to make sure our players are aware of that, especially young players, because it can sneak up on you fast. Now you're going from long week, long weeks, long weeks, and then the game time, to a 'bang' all of a sudden short week. So we're not really getting back to a seven day-week normal schedule. Now we're in a short week on top of that. So just those young players that aren't used to that break coming from college."

Quarterback Josh Allen said the team's leadership group is responsible for helping the younger players set schedules on a short week.

"We got a lot of ... guys that have been around and played a lot of these different types of games," Allen said. "So, some of the younger guys rely on them just figuring out what the schedule is throughout the week, how to get my body ready for Sunday on the short week. So, we're just relying on those guys. Coach McDermott has been helping us out with no pads and (Wednesday) kind of being a lighter day. So just trying to find a way to get back and ready for Sunday and that's just that's a weekly thing."

Dolphins injuries

In Miami, coach Mike McDaniel told reporters that left tackle Terron Armstead's status for Sunday is "up in the air."

He has a toe injury and has not practiced this week.

"I don’t think he knows yet if he will play," McDaniel said. "We have multiple contingency plans."

Tight ends Cethan Carter (concussion) and Hunter Long (ankle) were both ruled out for for the Dolphins, while Armstead, linebacker Raekwon Davis (knee), cornerback Xavien Howard (groin) and wide Cedrick Wilson Jr. (ribs) are all listed as questionable.

As for Howard, who could be matched up with Stefon Diggs, McDaniel said, "I think both him and his position coach are very confident. Myself, I’m going to wait until I see it. Otherwise, we have to be completely comfortable and prepared, which we are, to play without him.”

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News Sports Reporter

I started at The Buffalo News in 2009, and have previously been honored as one of the top 10 beat writers in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors for my coverage of the Bills. I live in Amherst with my wife, Melissa, and son, Elliott.

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