When the Bills take on the Bengals this Sunday it is expected that Buffalo will have a completely healthy defense, including the franchised tagged/training camp holdout Jairus Byrd. Byrd said he was ready to go for Thursday’s game against the Browns but Doug Marrone pretty much told him it might be best for him to keep resting those sore feet of his.
I, for one, am proud of Marrone for keeping him out of the lineup, even if it would’ve have been the difference in us winning the game. I would rather lose that game 100 times over than allow Byrd to play in a nationally televised game and soak up any spotlight in front of millions of football fans in a prime-time slot.
If Byrd doesn’t want to consider playing unless he is “100%” even while his teammate Mario Williams plays with the same injury, then it’s only right we make sure he is just “that” before we let him play. It was interesting how all of a sudden he was ready to play under those prime time lights. Now let’s just see if he is still going to be ready to play this Sunday against Cincinnati in the city that he feels robbed him of his free agency.
More important than the possibility of Jairus Byrd returning to action, is that chances remain very good that Stephon Gilmore will be back! I was very sad when I found out that Gilmore’s preseason injury was a broken wrist that would sideline him for 6-8 weeks. He came into the preseason looking as though he made incredible progress in his game during the off-season, and was looking like he was going to have a breakout campaign. Gilmore’s return now allows the Bills to move Leodis McKelvin to his more comfortable number 2 cornerback position. After watching him fill in for Gilmore with such impressive play the Bills now have a number 1 cornerback in a number 2 spot, and trust me, I am quite ok with that.
Ron Brooks is also expected to return this week, and it is widely speculated that his return will lead to the release of Justin Rodgers. Fans are quite critical on Rodgers’ play these days regardless of the fact that we have been so banged up on defense this year we really haven’t had any better options.
It greatly saddened me when Marquise Goodwin broke his hand in the first quarter of the first game this season. The good news is that it looks like he’ll be ready to return this week. He has been catching balls in practice for over a week now, and seems to be ready to go. If you regularly read my articles then you know that I believe that Goodwin could be a tremendous part of this offense. However, it is a shame that the week we get him back we won’t have our starting quarterback E.J. Manuel in the lineup. Regardless of who is starting at QB, I still expect the Bills entire passing offense to be noticeably more productive with Goodwin on the field, and let’s not forget about his kickoff return ability could also factor into our offense this week.
With a new quarterback at the helm, and potentially four players returning from injury including two star defensive players, this game against the Bengals might be a little different from weeks past. I’m not ruling the Bills out of this one, with Mario Williams on a franchise record pace in sacks, and Kiko Alonso playing like a monster, adding Gilmore and Byrd to that equation could lead to a complete shutdown of the Bengals offense.
But as always only time will tell, so here’s hoping for the best and Go Bills!