Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan was so happy with pass-rusher Jerry Hughes during practice recently that he took him off the field.
Players usually are jettisoned from the practice field because they are injured, because they fail to follow instructions or because they are getting schooled.
So why is Ryan yanking Hughes off the field?
Apparently, nobody can block him, and it’s becoming an issue. Ryan explains, via the Bills website:
“It’s rare that you have to pull a guy from practice because he’s ruining your practice, but I had to pull him,” said Ryan. “If we were keeping track he might have had five, six sacks. It’s one of those deals, it’s like, ‘OK, let’s pull him out. Let’s get a pass off or something like that.’ He really did have that kind of day.”
This isn’t just hot air from Ryan, who has been known in the past for his ability to propel hot-air balloons into the stratosphere with his bluster.
Remember, Hughes has become an integral part of Buffalo’s defense since coming over from Indianapolis. In his two years as a Bill, the former first-round pick has racked up 20 sacks (10 per season). That’s entering elite status, and one can only surmise his production will soar under Ryan’s tutelage.
Buffalo made an investment into Hughes this offseason, keeping him on board with a five-year contract worth $45 million (22 guaranteed). If Ryan’s comments are any indication, he’s well on his way to earning that money.
The Bills featured the No. 4-ranked defense overall and were No. 4 in scoring defense last year. If Hughes can continue ascending, then Buffalo’s defense will be even more formidable this season.
On the flip side, it doesn’t sound like Buffalo’s offensive tackles are looking good, which could pose a significant problem for the team’s offense.
But that’s a story for another day.