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4 Buffalo Bills who will get massive opportunities in Week 3 versus Miami Dolphins

Louie Gott

For the entirety of the Sean McDermott/Brandon Beane era, the injury bug has rarely hit this Buffalo Bills team. Call it luck if you want, but after five years of many clean injury reports, some credit must be given to the organization and its training staff.

But here, three weeks into their “Super Bowl or bust” season, the inevitable has finally happened. Already without star cornerback Tre’Davious White for the first four weeks of the season, the Bills have had a rash of injuries so far in this young season. All-pro safety Micah Hyde and cornerback Dane Jackson, both were hospitalized Monday night with neck injuries against the Tennessee Titans and both have been ruled out for Week 3.

Defensive tackle Jordan Phillips injured his hamstring during Matt Milano’s interception return for a TD in the third quarter of that game, and he too has been ruled out for Sunday. Defensive lineman Ed Oliver (ankle) and Tim Settle (calf) had both missed Monday night’s tilt with their own respective injuries. Center Mitch Morse, wide receiver Gabe Davis, tight end Dawson Knox, and safety Jordan Poyer were either limited or did not practice due to injury on Wednesday as well.

Related: Buffalo Bills schedule – NFL’s best go up against ascending Dolphins in Week 3

Team depth was the main concentration of this front office during the off-season and it will be put to the test here in Week 3 versus the Miami Dolphins. Here are four guys, that are not household names, that will need to step up this week if the Bills are to beat the ‘Fins in Miami.

Buffalo Bills rookie gets massive challenge versus Tyreek Hill

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Credit: USA Today Network

Christian Benford was a surprise starter in Week 1 when the 6th-round draft pick took the field over the first-round selection, Kaiir Elam. Both players will be called on this week to be starters if Jackson cannot go, which seems likely. If they were to grab straws to see which covered Tyreek Hill, and which covered Jaylen Waddle, they would both be considered losers.

There isn’t an easy task against the track team that is the Dolphins, and asking a 6th-round rookie in his third NFL game to cover either, seems like a daunting task. The Villanova alum has exceeded expectations by far in his short career, and a statement game versus arguably the league’s best receiver combo will go a long way to cement his role as an integral part of this defense, even when fully healthy.

Injury opens the door of opportunity for Quintin Morris

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Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

If Knox is unable to go this week, look for a sizable role for Quintin Morris. The Bills love what they have in this player, so much so they walked away from free agent signing, OJ Howard in their last round of cuts. An undrafted free agent in 2021 from Bowling Green, Morris was a standout for two preseasons in a row.

Against the Titans this past Monday, he made his NFL debut, playing 28 snaps and making his first career reception for six yards. With Knox not practicing this week thus far, it seems like Morris can get thrown into the TE1 role in Miami. The way that Josh Allen likes to spread the ball around, coupled with Morris’ athleticism, we can expect Morris to be prominent in the box score.

Brandin Bryant fits right into the Bills’ ‘culture’

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Bryant was unable to make the opening day 53-man roster for the Bills, but was quickly added to the team’s practice squad and got called up last week and put in a big spot with injuries to Settle and Oliver. At 48% of the snaps, he played the second most out of anyone on the defensive line against the Titans. Bryant is just another example of a guy that shined and worked hard in the off-season and has been brought in off the practice squad to contribute early in the season.

There is nothing explosive about Bryant’s game, but with a big body with a motor like a Mercedes-Benz, he is just the type of guy McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier love. With Jordan Phillips on the mend as well, it could mean even a bigger role for Bryant this week as the Bills try to fend off the running attack of Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds.

Jaquan Johnson will replace one of the team’s top players

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Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Jaquan Johnson has been mostly a special teams player for the Bills since his career started with them in 2019. With the pro bowl tandem of Hyde and Poyer as healthy mainstays, this will be the first opportunity he finds himself relied on as a defensive starter. He has stepped up in certain situations in the past, notably with an interception in last year’s tilt with the Houston Texans.

His biggest play as a Bill, however, may be remembered for his fake punt pass completion to fellow safety Sirian Neal against the Patriots in a 38-9 blowout win in 2020. He will be asked to do much more than he ever has in a game as he protects the back end from speedsters Hill and Waddle.