The Buffalo Bills will be without four key defensive players this weekend when they take on the division rival Miami Dolphins. Bills coaching Sean McDermott announced on Friday that safety Micah Hyde, cornerback Dane Jackson, and defensive linemen Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips will each be out for the game.
Hyde, a second-team All-Pro last season, did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday and is out with a neck injury. He sustained the injury while making a tackle of Robert Woods during the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game against the Tennessee Titans, and was eventually carted to the locker room. According to the Buffalo News, he will get a second opinion on the injury. McDermott would not comment Thursday on whether Hyde was with the team that day.
Jackson, the team’s top outside corner in the absence of Tre’Davious White, also suffered a neck injury during the game against Tennessee. He was taken to the Erie County Medical Center that evening for evaluation but was eventually released. He also did not practice this week.
Phillips, who is off to a terrific start to his second tenure in Buffalo with 1.5 sacks and four quarterback hits in two games, is out with a hamstring injury. Oliver plays in heavy rotation along the defensive front as well, and is out with an ankle injury.
In the absence of this quartet of players, the Bills will mostly be relying on youth. Jaquan Johnson will likely take over at safety next to Jordan Poyer, who is also dealing with an injury and is listed as questionable. Rookies Christian Benford and Kaiir Elam will likely play the majority of snaps at corner alongside slot man Taron Johnson. Tim Settle and DaQuan Jones will likely have to play more snaps along the interior of the defensive line, though Settle is listed as questionable. Players like Greg Rousseau, Carlos Basham Jr., and A.J. Epenesa could see more work as well, to account for the absences on the interior.
Against a Dolphins offense that has been both efficient and explosive early in the season, it is not ideal for the Bills to be without several key defenders. Lucky for them, their own offense is incredibly tough to stop. It may need to be even more so this weekend.