Bills in line to welcome back Watkins, running back Williams
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) After Tyrod Taylor put on a one-man show as a passer, rusher and even receiver in rallying the Bills to beat Tennessee, the quarterback is in line to welcome back some of his supporting cast.
Coach Rex Ryan announced Monday that receiver Sammy Watkins (right calf) is expected to return after missing two games. And though starting running back LeSean McCoy’s status remains uncertain because of a nagging left hamstring injury, backup Karlos Williams (concussion) has a chance to return after missing one game.
”It would be a big plus, obviously,” Ryan said, looking ahead to Buffalo (3-2) hosting Cincinnati (5-0) this weekend.
Ryan said Watkins was nearly ready to play after warming up before the Bills 14-13 win over the Titans on Sunday.
As for Williams, Ryan said the rookie was still taking part in the NFL’s concussion protocol. However, Ryan indicated Williams is expected to be cleared after saying the Bills had no plans to add a running back; Cierre Wood went on season-ending injured reserve Monday.
Without Wood, who hurt a knee ligament on Sunday, Buffalo would be down to two running backs, Boobie Dixon and Dan Herron, plus fullback Jerome Felton.
What’s clear is that any additional help would provide a boost to an offense forced to lean mostly on Taylor, who almost single-handedly engineered two touchdown drives in the final 16 1/2 minutes of a come-from-behind victory.
The first-year starter accounted for 62 yards, including 53 rushing, during an 80-yard touchdown drive he capped with a 22-yard scramble to cut Tennessee’s lead to 10-7.
On Buffalo’s next possession, Taylor combined for 76 yards – 24 rushing, 48 passing and a 4-yard catch from Chris Hogan – during an 80-yard drive which ended with his 2-yard touchdown pass to Hogan.
With the offense managing 51 yards and four first downs in the first half, Ryan said he had no choice but to put more emphasis on Taylor’s scrambling abilities to provide a spark.
Taylor responded with a team-leading 76 yards rushing to set a franchise record for most by a quarterback. He also became the fifth quarterback since 1960 – and second since 1966 – to have at least 100 yards passing, 70 yards rushing and a reception in the same game.
”Quarterback has the biggest heart. Man, it was tough sledding, but he has guts,” Ryan said. ”At the end of the day, he is the reason we won the game.”
Impressive as Taylor was, Ryan cautioned it isn’t in the Bills’ best interest to expose their starter to open-field hits.
”It’s always a concern, there’s no question,” Ryan said. ”And I can tell you this, he is beat up right now. He’s sore. You ought to see him.”
Taylor has been bothered by an ankle injury that’s nagged him since training camp. On Sunday, he left the field for one play after twisting his left ankle on a 24-yard scramble on third-and-23 from his 7.
Ryan declined to say whether any of the hits the quarterback took Sunday will limit him in practice this week.
NOTES: In placing Wood on injured reserve, the Bills activated DE Ikemefuna Enemkpali, who finished serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Enemkpali was suspended for a punch that broke the jaw of New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith during a locker room altercation in August. … Buffalo’s 209 yards on offense Sunday were the team’s fewest in a win since managing 167 in a 20-9 victory at Carolina in 2009. … Buffalo finished with 24:29 in time of possession, the fewest in a victory since 23:01 in a 13-10 win at Miami in 2007.
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