ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills will be without multiple defensive starters Sunday for the early AFC East battle at the Miami Dolphins, as cornerback Dane Jackson (neck), safety Micah Hyde (neck) and defensive tackles Jordan Phillips (hamstring) and Ed Oliver (ankle) have been ruled out.
The Bills are dealing with injuries to other starters as well. Safety Jordan Poyer (foot) missed practice time and defensive tackle Tim Settle (calf) is working his way back after missing the Bills’ win over the Tennessee Titans on Monday. Both are listed as questionable to play against the Dolphins, as are wide receiver Gabe Davis, tight end Dawson Knox and center Mitch Morse.
All the questionable players were limited in practice Friday.
“We’re just going to take [Poyer’s status] one day at a time,” coach Sean McDermott said at a news conference Friday. “He’s one of those that are in that group in there, we’ve got a couple of those guys, maybe three or four, that remains to be seen what they’ll be able to get done on Sunday. I’ll know a little bit more today. It may not still be definitive after today, but we’ll take it one day at a time.”
Jackson, the team’s No. 1 cornerback with Tre’Davious White still rehabbing from a torn ACL, was taken off the field in an ambulance after being inadvertently hit by teammate Tremaine Edmunds on Monday while making a tackle, but he avoided a major head or neck injury.
Rookie cornerbacks Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford are set to start after rotating opposite Jackson in the first two games. Elam, the Bills’ 2022 first-round pick, will be in line to make his first career start.
Safety Jaquan Johnson will start in place of Hyde, who was also injured against the Titans and taken to a hospital for evaluation. Linebacker Matt Milano (stinger) has no injury designation heading into the game after practicing in full all week.
The depleted defense will be challenged by a Dolphins offense that added wide receiver Tyreek Hill this offseason. Hill leads the NFL in receiving yards (284), with teammate Jaylen Waddle (240) third. Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (270) splits the pair.
“At the end of the day, you have to trust the guys that could potentially step into roles, if someone is not able to play, that they’ll be able to handle the game plan,” defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “And part of it is, when we start back in April, we’re installing the same things that we’re going to run in the fall, and I always tell our players that. Unlike some teams that may be installing just to take a look at some things in the offseason, we’re working on things we got to do during the season, which I think is one of the reasons we’ve been able to usually get off to a good start on defense.”