Last week, as the Buffalo Bills were preparing for their Week 16 game against the Dallas Cowboys, head coach Rex Ryan told reporters that the team would start to mix some younger players into the lineup in an effort to evaluate some of their developing talent heading into the offseason.
They succeeded on that front in yesterday's 16-6 win over the Cowboys, but only to a certain extent.
Rookie linebacker A.J. Tarpley, for example, saw the most playing time he'd seen all year, playing 30 out of 59 snaps on defense (and recording an interception off of a tipped ball in the process). In fact, most of the young talent that saw massive increases in playing time were on the defensive side of the ball, with cornerback Mario Butler (46 snaps), cornerback Ron Brooks (31), and defensive lineman Jerel Worthy (21) all seeing season highs in snaps played. That had a lot to do with the fact that the Bills were missing, at one point or another, six of their defensive starters from Week 1.
Offensively, it was more of a mixed bag. Rookie wide receiver Dezmin Lewis played the first nine snaps of his NFL career, but veteran Marcus Easley (10) and street free agent Greg Salas (26) both saw more playing time. Nick O'Leary was listed as a starter at tight end, but he played just 12 snaps compared to 50 for Chris Gragg. And when right guard John Miller left the game with an ankle injury, it was Kraig Urbik taking the snaps, not little-known reserve Ryan Groy.
For a full accounting of Buffalo's offensive and defensive snap counts, from the perspectives of both yesterday's game and the season on the whole, be sure to visit our snap counts page.