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Bills-Cardinals snap count notes

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Nick O’Leary carves out a role, and the Bills went heavy on defensive backs this week

NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The annual tradition has been somewhat belated this season, but fear not, Bills fans: Your 2016 snap counts have been updated on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, current as of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.

Given that this game saw two coaches taking on fresh playcalling roles, it was a chance to see what new tendencies emerged. Sure enough, there are some insights to glean from the activity on the gameday roster.

Offensive skill distribution stays constant, on the whole

Given that Anthony Lynn seemed to be emphasizing more five-wide and horizontal concepts this week, you might have thought that the Bills were emphasizing the receiving corps against the Cardinals. Think again! Buffalo averaged 2.52 receivers, 1.13 tight ends, and 1.25 running backs on Sunday. Compare that to 2.58 receivers, 1.17 tight ends, and 1.13 running backs against the Jets. The major difference? Lynn took several opportunities to move running backs out of the backfield after the huddle, creating the illusion of a wide-open spread. It’s a wrinkle that will remind Bills fans of one of Chan Gailey’s favored tendencies.

One other notable trend: Jerome Felton took a season-high 16 snaps for the fullback position. Glenn Gronkowski had 8 in week one, and Felton received 5 last week.

Nick O’Leary gains ground

After two weeks as the third tight end in the pecking order, playing only three snaps per game (against Jim Dray’s 10.5), O’Leary jumped up to 14 snaps, offset by Dray only earning five this week. He made the most of those snaps, with a 28 yard sideline reception on his only target. Was this a result of Lynn opening up the passing game, or will O’Leary continue seeing the field in the future?

Nickel-and-diming the defense

The Bills placed a strong emphasis on stopping the passing game by flooding the field with defensive backs, and this was clear in their defensive snaps. The team averaged 2.73 cornerbacks, 2.78 safeties, and only 1.5 defensive linemen per any snap. Essentially, their average defense was halfway between a nickel and a dime package.

The 100% club

On defense, Preston Brown and Corey Graham both haven’t missed a play through three weeks of the season. On offense, four of Buffalo’s five starting linemen have played 100% of snaps, and Cyrus Kouandjio hasn’t missed any since taking over for the injured Cordy Glenn. Tyrod Taylor is sitting at 99%, having missed one play with the concussion protocol.