ORCHARD PARK — When Rasul Douglas arrived in Buffalo, he wasn’t worried about the playbook. He was more worried about taking someone’s seat in meetings.
The Bills don’t have schoolmarm rules about assigned seats, but eight games into a season, there are tendencies about where to sit in meetings and some players just have odd habits. But the football part? That was just going to come around.
During his first two games with the Bills after being acquired in a trade from the Green Bay Packers at the trade deadline, Douglas was targeted nine times, allowing six completions for 62 yards. While his play wasn’t flashy, Douglas already had better numbers than he did with the Packers this season, giving up 27 completions on 41 targets for 292 yards and four touchdowns.
All of that was a setup for Sunday’s 32-6 win against the Jets, when he made more catches than the receivers he was covering. Douglas didn’t allow a reception on five targets, made two interceptions and recovered a fumble, exceeding his takeaways for the entire season in one game.
“I got (Bills defensive backs coach John Butler) and we go through everything we’re going to run,” Douglas said. “Then I got Micah (Hyde) and (Jordan) Poyer and those (expletives) are going to make sure I don’t mess them up. So they make sure they’re communicating with me all the time what we’re in or what we’re doing.”
Douglas is the second player acquired by the Bills in as many seasons at the deadline, but when they traded for Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines last season, it was with the future in mind. Douglas, however, wasn’t going to be able to gradually work his way into the lineup.
A replacement for Tre’Davious White, who tore his Achilles tendon against the Miami Dolphins in Week 4, Douglas was even thrust into the lineup sooner than anticipated. Originally supposed to be eased in after arriving Wednesday for a Sunday game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Douglas had to play more when Christian Benford injured his hamstring.
More than any other position, the Bills cornerbacks have been ravaged by injuries this season. Benford has missed two games with hamstring injuries, Jackson missed a game with a foot injury and sustained a concussion against the Jets, while Kaiir Elam was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. And now slot cornerback Taron Johnson is in concussion protocol.
So getting Douglas up to speed in a hurry has been critical for the Bills, particularly after he broke their six-game drought without an interception.
“Very instinctive, understands the game inside and out and he’s just somebody who I can tell a call, he’s going to listen and he just understands what he’s doing and he plays physical and he plays aggressive,” Poyer said. “He makes our job in the back end a lot easier.”
While Douglas has surely gotten a lot of help from the veterans in the secondary, Bills coaches have placed more of the credit on him. Douglas’s strengths are playing zone coverage, which is Buffalo’s specialty, allowing him to be a plug-and-play guy.
“Just eager to learn,” Bills defensive line coach Eric Washington said. “… He’s a smart player, he knows how to find the football and he knows how to adjust the coverage and coverage technique in the situation he’s confronted with. So we’re very excited that he’s here. And he’s a good person for our secondary to kind of really pay attention to in terms of how he approaches a situation practice.”
Gilliam honored for forced fumble
Bills fullback Reggie Gilliam was named AFC special teams player of the week Wednesday after forcing a fumble on New York’s Xavier Gipson on the opening kickoff Sunday.
The play was one of two special teams tackles for Gilliam on the day, joining Tennessee’s Amani Hooker as the only NFL players to force a fumble on the opening kickoff this season. It was Gilliam’s first forced fumble since his rookie campaign in 2020.
Jackson and Johnson did not participate in Wednesday’s walkthrough, while safety Taylor Rapp (neck) did not practice after being taken off the field against the Jets in an ambulance. Bills coach Sean McDermott said Monday they were optimistic Rapp could play against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Safeties Micah Hyde (neck/stinger) and Cam Lewis (shoulder) were limited in practice. Josh Allen (right shoulder), Trent Sherfield (ankle) and Dorian Williams (knee) were full participants.