The Buffalo Bills could have a major hole in their defensive line just in time to face one of the league’s best running backs.
Defensive tackle Ed Oliver is nursing an ankle injury suffered in the team’s Week 1 win over the Los Angeles Rams. Oliver remained out of practice this week as the Bills brought in some potential reinforcements, which could be an ominous sign ahead of the team’s Monday Night Football matchup against the Tennessee Titans.
Oliver Could Miss Key Bills Game
Oliver’s ankle injury kept him out of the Bills’ practice on Wednesday, the team announced. The defensive tackle initially went down in the first half of the team’s September 8 win over the Rams, and he returned briefly in the third quarter before being forced out again for the rest of the game.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott said this week that it’s not clear whether Oliver will be back for Monday’s game against the Titans.
“We’ll just take it one day at a time. We’ll see where it goes from there,” McDermott said, via the team’s official website.
The Bills could be hurting without Oliver, who has been one of the team’s best interior defensive linemen. Buffalo will have to contend with running back Derrick Henry, who last year helped push the Titans to a 34-31 win over the Bills. Henry rushed 20 times for 13 yards and three touchdowns in that game, including the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said on September 12 that the team is expecting a physical contest and believes they’re ready for Henry.
“He’s an outstanding back,” Frazier said. “He’s capable of breaking a long run at any given moment. We’ll have to go on the field and really show that we can stop him, we don’t know that yet. We haven’t gone against him with this group, [but] we feel very confident that we’ll be able to do a good job.”
Bills Bring in Reinforcements
The Bills appear to be making preparations for Monday’s contest in the event that Oliver isn’t healthy enough to play. The team announced on Wednesday that defensive tackle Prince Emili was signed to the practice squad and wide receiver Tanner Gentry was released in a corresponding move.
Emili had been with the Bills in training camp but was released as the team pared the roster down to 53 players. Emili had five tackles and one sack through two preseason games for the Bills.
If Oliver isn’t able to play on Monday, the Bills will likely offset the loss by spreading out his snaps among several other players. McDermott employs a deep rotation on the defensive line, with no player on the field for more than 69 percent of the team’s snaps in the Week 1 win.
The unit could be stretched very thin, however. Along with Oliver’s lingering ankle injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s practice, fellow defensive tackle Tim Settle was also unable to practice. If both are unable to play, the Bills could look to practice-squad tackles Brandin Bryant and C.J. Brewer for help.