The Buffalo Bills defense is thriving despite being without a key member of their defensive line. And it appears that defensive tackle Marcell Dareus will not make his season debut against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Bills Insider Chris Brown is reporting that Dareus (hamstring) did not practice this week, and will likely miss his sixth consecutive game as he is listed as doubtful on the team’s injury list. The 26-year-old was injured during practice last Friday, which was his first week with the team since being suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. However, he has not officially been ruled out.
“We’ll see what happens,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “Never say never. If he’s feeling great, I’m not one of these coaches where you have practice. If you’re a great player then I’ll throw you in there.”
Dareus has not played in an NFL game since making three tackles against the New York Jets last January. The six-foot-three, 331-pounder has gone through a lot since that game, which includes trying to better cope with his ADHD according to Michael Silver of NFL Network.
Two years ago, Dareus was seen as one of the best interior defensive linemen in all of football. He was selected to his straight Pro Bowl and named to First Team All-Pro for the first time in his career in 2014, after recording 35 tackles and a career-high 10 sacks. The sixth-year pro has 252 tackles and 30.5 sacks in his career.
Dareus is not the only player in jeopardy of missing the game against the Niners as the Bills have nine players listed as questionable.
Starting inside linebacker Zach Brown missed Wednesday’s practice due to an undisclosed foot injury though he was on the field on Thursday and Friday in a limited capacity. Brown is officially listed as questionable for the game against the Niners. CBS Sports property, RotoWire, believes that the odds are in favor of Brown playing.
Brown has been one of the catalysts for the Bills, leading the league with 58 stops. The 26-year-old also has a sack and two forced fumbles. If Brown is unable to go or play as much as normal due to the foot injury, veteran Ramon Humber would likely fill in his spot.
Other defensive players that were listed on the injury report were starting defensive lineman Corbin Bryant (ankle), starting safety Aaron Williams (ankle), and backup cornerback Corey White (shoulder). All three practiced all three days this week, albeit in a limited capacity. Williams is assumed to have the best chance of the three players to play this week, despite leaving last week’s game early with a shoulder ailment. White missed Week 5’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Buffalo have been very good defensively this season, and the Bills should be able to continue their good run against a struggling San Francisco offense. The Bills have forced nine turnovers and allowed 13 points a contest during their three game-winning streak. Overall, they rank second in red zone defense, fifth in points allowed, sixth in yards per rush allowed and 11th in third down defense.
San Francisco is eighth in the league in rushing offense with 121.4 yards a game and is 18th in scoring with 22.2 points. The Niners have not scored over 27 points in a game since putting up 28 against the Rams in their season-opening win. They did make a change at quarterback replacing starter Blaine Gabbert with Colin Kaepernick this week.
Besides having the league leader in tackles, the Bills have the NFL’s sack leader in linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (seven). And the AFC Defensive Players of the Week the past two weeks — Brown and Nickell Robey-Coleman.
On the offensive side, TE Charles Clay (knee) is expected to play. Clay has been a major weapon for the Bills’ this year, hauling in five passes in three of the past four games. He is third on the team in catches and second in yards.
Starting tackle Cordy Glenn (ankle) missed a couple of games earlier in the season but has played in the last two contests. The Bills have just been cautious with him in practice since his return. Backup center Patrick Lewis (knee) and reserve tackle Cyrus Kouandijo (ankle) will likely be inactive per Fansided. Lewis has yet to play this year, and Kouandijo returned to practice for the first time on Friday since getting hurt during Week 3.
P Colton Schmidt is also on the injured list with a right quad injury. The Bills do not have another punter on the roster, so if the injury tightens up, K Dan Carpenter may be called into emergency duty.
[Featured Image by AP Images]