The Buffalo Bills brought in veteran defensive tackle Poona Ford this offseason as one of their most high-profile additions to the defense, so it raised some concern among fans when he was a healthy scratch in the team’s game against the Washington Commanders on September 24.
The Bills decided to bench Ford while moving second-year defensive end Kingsley Jonathan into the lineup for the first time this season. This week, an insider explained exactly why Bills head coach Sean McDermott made the switch.
Poona Ford Caught in ‘Numbers Game’
The Bills had been largely healthy through the first three weeks of the season, but defensive end Lenoard Floyd was nursing an injured ankle heading into Sunday’s game against the Commanders. As insider Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News wrote in a mailbag column published on September 27, that led the Bills to bring more depth at defensive end — and Ford was the player left on the bubble.
“That explains why Kingsley Jonathan was active for the first time this season,” Skurski wrote. “Floyd had his ankle heavily wrapped during pregame warmups, but played the game without the wrap and looked just fine doing so, finishing with a pair of sacks. With Jonathan active, the Bills chose to sit Ford for the first time this season. For now, that comes down to a numbers game.”
That would suggest that Ford could once again find himself a healthy scratch if the Bills need to add depth in other positions. The team in recent years has kept the defensive line as one of its deepest positions as McDermott prefers to employ a deep rotation of players.
Bills Making Another Change in Week 4
Ford’s benching was the first change that the Bills had made to their inactive list through the first three weeks of the season, but a high-profile injury will be forcing another change for the team’s October 1 game against the Miami Dolphins.
As ESPN’s Aliana Getzenberg reported, the Bills ruled out safety Jordan Poyer for the game. He had not been able to practice all week due to a knee injury, and now will miss Sunday’s key divisional game against the Dolphins.
Poyer’s absence means that third-year safety Damar Hamlin is expected to suit up for the first time this season. Hamlin, who started 13 games and made 91 tackles last season while filling in for Poyer and Micah Hyde, had been a healthy scratch for the first three games.
Sunday’s game is expected to be the first time Hamlin returns to the field since suffering cardiac arrest in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals last season, leading to a long hospitalization and months of recovery to be able to return to the team.
The Bills will be starting veteran safety Taylor Rapp, with Hamlin serving as the backup. Rapp said this week that he feels up for the challenge of his first start of the season.
“[Hyde and Poyer have] been both great to me, trying to bring me along as much as possible dating back to OTAs and training camp throughout the season,” Rapp said, via ESPN. “So, I’m looking forward to going out there, obviously, and capitalizing on the opportunity.”