Before practice Thursday, Bills head coach Sean McDermott addressed the media for the final time this week before the team travels to play the Washington Commanders Sunday afternoon.
McDermott said that tight end Dawson Knox (back), Jordan Poyer (veteran rest day) would not practice and that safety Micah Hyde (hamstring), Leonard Floyd (ankle) and Terrel Bernard (knee/groin) would be limited. After missing Wednesday’s practice with an illness, defensive tackle Jordan Phillips returned Thursday as a full participant.
According to the injury report released after practice, right tackle Spencer Brown was also limited in Thursday’s practice (shoulder).
Running back James Cook missed practice but it was for a good reasons has he welcomed the birth of his daughter.
For multiple Bills, Sunday’s game in Landover, MD will be a homecoming of their own. Wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Deonte Harty as well as cornerback Christian Benford grew up and played high school football in Maryland.
Diggs, who was the state’s No. 1-ranked recruit out of high school, chose to stay home and play for the University of Maryland, declining offers from USC, Florida and Ohio State, among others.
“This kid Diggs … he’s catching balls for 100 yards, he’s scoring three or four touchdowns a game [in high school]and then you start taking a look at him and watching what he’s done and all of a sudden you realize, this kid is something special,” said Johnny Holliday, a longtime sportscaster for the University of Maryland.
Diggs has the chance to reach 9,000 career yards Sunday, as the 29-year-old is only 20 yards away from the career milestone, one that only five other active NFL players have achieved.
For the Bills star WR, his focus is on the field, not the record books.
“It’s cool,” Diggs said on potentially reaching 9,000 yards in his home state. “I mean, I try not to get lost in it too much. I’m aiming for something a little higher. So I feel like that’s maybe a half-step in the right direction.”
Digg is, however, excited to come home.
“I love going home,” Diggs said with a smile. “I like being around my family, I like seeing my mom – even though she comes to games and stuff – but it’s different. It kind of gives you that little feeling of being at home again and being in high school.”
This will be Diggs’ third away game against Washington. As a Viking, Diggs recorded 17 receptions for 242 yards and a touchdown between two games at FedEx Field.
The state of Maryland will be watching Diggs in action with pride.
“Maryland just flies the flag and says, Stefon Diggs went to school here,” Holliday said. “He came back [for a Maryland game] and, man, the people went nuts.”
Just under 400 miles south of Buffalo, the Commanders are preparing to face off against an “elite” Bills squad, according to Washington head coach Ron Rivera.
In his first year as the Commanders’ definitive starter, quarterback Sam Howell acknowledged to the Washington media this week the difficulty of going against the Bills’ veteran-heavy defense.
“Probably the best defense we’ve played so far this year,” Howell said. “Just everywhere you look on the field, there’s a good player. They’re a veteran group, they know exactly what they’re doing in coverage, and they don’t do a whole bunch of crazy looks. They kind of play what they play and they’re really good at it.”
As a young quarterback in the NFL, Howell said he has “a lot of respect” for Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
“You can tell he is a great leader and it’s a lot of fun watching him,” Howell said.
Commanders assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy spoke incredibly highly of Bills linebacker Matt Milano, who already has two interceptions this season.
“He is a beast. I am a fan of his,” Bieniemy said. “He probably doesn’t get the respect that he should. He flies all over, he makes a number of tackles throughout the course of the game. On top of that, he can cover. He’s just a key integral part of what they do.”
In other news, the Buffalo Bills partnered with Leveling the Playing Field and Project Play WNY Wednesday in support of a new warehouse for under-resourced families and children in need of sports equipment. Bills staff members worked with LPF and Project Play to assemble storage racks and collection bins for the new warehouse and the Bills donated 200 pairs of cleats and mouthpieces to be distributed throughout the WNY community. To donate gently used or new sporting goods items, visit the Leveling the Playing Field website.
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