In a press conference before Friday’s practice, head coach Sean McDermott confirmed that safety Micah Hyde, cornerback Dane Jackson, and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips won’t be available to play on Sunday.
Hyde and Jackson both left Monday’s game against the Tennessee Titans with neck injuries that required more screening at a local medical center. Neither has been able to practice all week, and it was reported yesterday that Hyde was seeking a second opinion, although it hasn’t yet been stated what his prognosis for returning to play is.
Jordan Phillips was also injured in the game while running downfield as Matt Milano returned an interception for a touchdown in the third quarter on Monday. Phillips was on the opposite side of the field from the action when he could be seen falling to the ground with a non-contact injury that was later listed as a hamstring.
Buffalo’s defense has been playing lights out and has only given up 17 points this season, creating a league-leading +55 point differential for the Bills after two weeks of the 2022 NFL season, but they’ll be taking on two of the league’s most dynamic receivers in Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill, and will have to do so with two rookie cornerbacks.
Christian Benford and Kaiir Elam have been rotating in and out of the Bills’ lineup for the past two weeks as defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier has used them in tandem to replace the injured Tre’Davious White (ACL) who started the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. But now, with Jackson out, the two will be have to be on the field at the same time and attempt to keep up with the speed of Miami’s receivers.
In a press conference yesterday, Frazier said that he has complete confidence in the rookie duo of Benford and Elam and that they have been preparing for this every week.
In addition, it will be Jaquan Johnson or Damar Hamlin who will be playing safety on Sunday rather than Micah Hyde, meaning that at least three-fourths of the Bills secondary will have made only a combined 17 tackles in their careers.
When asked if Jordan Poyer, the other piece of the Buffalo secondary and Hyde’s complement at safety, would be ready for the game, McDermott was non-committal.
“He’s in that group of guys that we will have to wait and see,” McDermott said, noting that there were “three or four” players in that wait-and-see group along with Poyer. “I will know a little more after today, but it may still not be definitive. We will have to take it just one day at a time.”
McDermott said that Poyer injured his foot in Monday night’s game, something that wasn’t seen during the game action and came as somewhat of a surprise when the safety first showed up on the week’s injury reports on Wednesday.
“It’s just been sore since, and we’ve learned more about it recently,” McDermott said.
If Poyer is unable to go, the Bills would be forced to play both Johnson and Hamlin at safety, however, during Friday’s practice, which took place after McDermott’s press conference, Poyer was seen in uniform and with the team, providing hope that he may be able to play, at least in some part, by Sunday.
Jordan Poyer is in uniform and looks to be participating in practice.— Matt Parrino (@MattParrino) September 23, 2022
The good news for Buffalo is that McDermott didn’t hesitate to answer in the affirmative that Milano, who suffered a stinger in Monday’s game, will be playing against the Dolphins.
“Yes,” he replied simply, quickly, and definitively when asked if he expected the linebacker to suit up on Sunday.
With strong play along the line of scrimmage, similar to what the Bills have been doing in the first two games of the season, and a healthy linebacker room, Buffalo will surely look to keep quarterback Tua Tagovailoa off balance and unable to get passes deep downfield.
Forcing the Dolphins’ offense to play a short game would certainly relieve some pressure on the young secondary that the Bills will have to field in Miami on Sunday.