Who have been the most durable players on the Buffalo Bills? That's not an easy question to answer, as I found out when digging through play time percentages for the Bills over the past two seasons.
A lot of factors come into play here that go beyond players simply getting hurt and missing time. For one, the NFL has only made play time percentage data available for the last two years, which is not the biggest sample size. (Complicating that matter further: it's also clearly not 100 percent accurate data, though it's certainly close enough to paint an accurate picture.) Most importantly, that two-year window for the Bills captures a regime change, with a new GM and coaching staff overhauling the roster in several key areas, most notably at quarterback and linebacker.
In the end, we can only pick out a handful of current Bills that can be described as "durable" - but that list will hopefully grow as young players cement their status as starters, and the current regime gets its guys into place. For the purpose of this post, however, I wanted to highlight the Bills players that have played at least 50 percent of total offensive or defensive snaps over the past two years.
|C Eric Wood||2,032||93.6%||2|
|LT Cordy Glenn||1,963||90.5%||3|
|RG Kraig Urbik||1,925||88.7%||3|
|TE Scott Chandler||1,667||76.8%||2|
|WR Stevie Johnson||1,640||75.6%||4|
|RT Erik Pears||1,539||70.9%||9|
|WR T.J. Graham||1,523||70.2%||1|
It's no surprise that more than half of this list is comprised of offensive linemen. Wood, Glenn and Urbik have been mainstays up front, missing only a handful of games between them - but you already knew this, given that we were focusing on left guard and right tackle during the offseason. Pears cracked the list despite missing more than half of the 2012 season due to injury, which says a lot about just how much the biggest guys on the team play.
Quarterback, obviously, was not going to be a position on these lists. Ryan Fitzpatrick nearly cracked the 50 percent barrier based on 2012 alone, but the position was overhauled prior to 2013. Another position that has been overhauled: wide receiver, where the only two players on our list are not likely to play a ton (or, in the case of Johnson, at all) at receiver for the Bills this season. Tight end, however, has not been overhauled, so there's a good chance that Chandler will still be on this list come next spring.
The running back position is an interesting area, too. Fred Jackson (995 snaps, 45.9 percent of total) and C.J. Spiller (956, 44 percent) have missed a combined seven games between them, and both have been hobbled for stretches over the last two seasons, as well. And yes, clearly, the fact that they rarely share the backfield hurts their play time percentages; at their healthiest, they're fighting over a 60-40 split on most game days. Both members of this productive duo are heading into the final year of their current contracts, so this split bears watching this fall.
|DE Mario Williams||1,928||86.3%||0|
|DT Kyle Williams||1,732||77.6%||0|
|CB Stephon Gilmore||1,704||76.3%||5|
|FS Jairus Byrd||1,657||74.2%||5|
|DT Marcell Dareus||1,611||72.1%||0|
|DB Aaron Williams||1,473||66.0%||7|
|CB Leodis McKelvin||1,274||57.1%||2|
|LB Kiko Alonso||1,145||51.3%||0|
Let's start at linebacker, where it's pretty hilarious that Alonso cracks this list at all. Going forward, provided he stays healthy, he'll likely continue to be the only linebacker on the list, because he's the only three-down linebacker on the squad. Linebacker is a position that the team has completely overhauled; it's weird to recall that Nick Barnett, Bryan Scott and Kelvin Sheppard were the most-used players at that position in 2012.
Scheme change has left the edges of the front seven in flux, but Williams, Williams and Dareus have been mainstays up front - even with Kyle Williams playing through his persistent Achilles issues, and Dareus working through a couple of minor injuries and a couple of late-2013 season suspensions.
You may recall that Buffalo's secondary has been fairly ravaged by injury, yet four defensive backs make this list. Gilmore missed five games in 2013; otherwise, he may very well have been the most-played defender on the list. Byrd may have challenged him with that honor had he not missed five games with plantar fasciitis as well, and this serves as yet another reminder that the Bills have their work cut out for them replacing him. Williams makes the list despite several injuries and missing seven games, while McKelvin makes the cut even though he spent the 2012 season buried on the depth chart and in Chan Gailey's proverbial doghouse.
Who on these lists would you consider the Bills' most durable (and therefore dependable) players?