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Reggie Gilliam carves out a consistent role through Bills' first two wins

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Staying on his feet (copy)

Bills fullback Reggie Gilliam played 18 snaps Monday night against the Titans at Highmark Stadium.

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The Buffalo Bills were able to withstand the loss of wide receiver Gabriel Davis in Week 2.

Davis did not play in the 41-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans because of an ankle injury suffered in practice Saturday, meaning Jake Kumerow got the start. Kumerow responded by making two catches for 50 yards. Given the lopsided nature of the score, the snap counts in the game were quite different than they would have been in a closer contest. Nevertheless, Kumerow ended up playing the most of any wide receiver. He was on the field for 53 of 68 offensive snaps – 78%.

Additionally, rookie wide receiver Khalil Shakir made his NFL debut after being a healthy inactive in Week 1 and played 24 offensive snaps (35%). Shakir was targeted twice in the passing game, but both attempts fell incomplete.

“It's a journey and so we lost Gabe on Saturday,” coach Sean McDermott said after the game. “Then Shakir steps in, Jake steps in, and they raise their game and that’s what you got to do in through the course of the season.”

Here are four more takeaways from the Bills’ snap counts in their Week 2 win:

1. James Cook got more work than Zack Moss. The Bills’ rookie running back played 18 snaps (26%), compared to 13 for Moss (19%). Whether that was a product of the score or a hint at the Bills’ future plans remains to be seen.

2. Reggie Gilliam’s work has been steady. The Bills’ fullback, who opened the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown reception, played 18 snaps, a week after playing 19 in the season opener against the Rams. Gilliam seems to have a clear role in offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey’s system.

3. The rotation along the defensive line was in full swing. The Bills had nine defensive linemen active against the Titans, which makes sense when bruising running back Derrick Henry is on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Those defensive linemen all played between 21 and 29 snaps. For the second consecutive game, DaQuan Jones played the most snaps on the D-line with 29 (52%), while C.J. Brewer played 21 (38%) in his first NFL game after being called up from the practice squad earlier in the day.

4. Christian Benford played the most defensive snaps. The rookie cornerback started for the second straight game. The plan appeared to be the same as Week 1, with Benford and fellow rookie Kaiir Elam rotating series. That changed, however, when Dane Jackson suffered a neck injury in the second quarter. That led to Benford and Elam being on the field together. Benford ended up playing 51 of 56 defensive snaps (91%), while Elam was at 37 snaps (66%) and Jackson was limited to 24 snaps (43%).

“I thought that they battled,” coach Sean McDermott said of Benford and Elam. “When Dane went down, they were both out there, not the whole game, but kind of the rest of the second quarter there and then third, for the most part. They really embrace that growth mindset. They're working to get better every day. They're coachable. They listen. And they not only listen to their coaches, but they listen to the veterans that are around them."

Quote of the game

“I thought that both coaching staffs with the defense, offense, special teams, they did a great job. Good game plans, players executed. I thought it was good fundamental football. I thought we were a little, maybe, erratic early and we settled in and started playing disciplined football for the most part. I should say fundamentally strong football – we still need to add some discipline into what we do there.” – Bills coach Sean McDermott

Game ball: Stefon Diggs

Simply put, Diggs was the best player on the field. He has been virtually unguardable throughout the first two games. His stats Monday – 12 catches, 148 yards, three touchdowns – easily could have been larger had the Bills needed him to play any more. It felt like whenever quarterback Josh Allen wanted to, he could complete a pass to Diggs. That’s a powerful feeling for an offense.

Stat of the game: 24-0

That was the score differential in the third quarter. The Bills’ 24 points are the second most they have scored in any third quarter in franchise history, trailing only the 28 points scored against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 10, 1995. Buffalo has outscored its two opponents in the second half this season, 45-0.

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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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