Sean McDermott and the Buffalo Bills are piecing together a secondary this week knowing they draw the NFL leader in touchdown passes on Sunday.
"I'm confident in our football team," McDermott said of whether using his backups against Lamar Jackson is a mismatch, confessing injuries "Leave us in alittle bit of an unknown position right now. It's going to be a team effort."
The host Baltimore Ravens are patching their offensive line on the fly while prepping for a run defense allowing 57.7 yards per game and a pass rush with 11 sacks.
To date, the Ravens are more than holding up, averaging 33 points and 380.3 yards per game thanks to Jackson, who last week became the first player in NFL history with three TD passes and 100 rushing yards in consecutive games.
Jackson visited the Bills and McDermott prior to the 2018 NFL Draft, when Buffalo went with Josh Allen and the Ravens landed Jackson later in the first round. McDermott said they "loved everything about" Jackson and their pick was all about how much they wanted Allen.
"It is crazy to think about," Allen said on Wednesday. "Lamar, he's an MVP player. He's playing really good football right now. So, we're going into a hostile environment, we got to find a way to put our best foot forward."
At this point, greatness has become expected from both quarterbacks. Entering Week 4, the quarterbacks rank first and third in combined offense. Allen has accounted for 1,127 yards, Jackson 992 (Jalen Hurts of the Eagles has 1,083). Jackson has accounted for 12 touchdowns; Buffalo has 11 total TDs.
But the defensive issues are the bigger concern, especially for the Ravens.
"The biggest challenge is that fact that he does so many things so well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Allen. "His style is unique. He's just a very athletic, big strong guy who can throw the ball really well."
Harbaugh said he anticipates more blitzes from the Bills, for which the team's answer has been putting Jackson under center more frequently.
"Lamar is as dynamic as it gets," Bills defensive end Von Miller said. "He can throw the ball, he can run the ball. He can do whatever it takes to win games, to put his teammates in great situations to win. And that's why he should be the highest-paid player in the NFL, and that's why he should have the biggest contract out of all the quarterbacks."
Three offensive linemen didn't practice for the Bills on Wednesday. Ryan Bates (concussion protocol), Dion Dawkins (non-COVID illness) and Rodger Saffold (veteran rest day) were sidelined as were defensive linemen Jordan Phillips (hamstring) and Miller (rest day). Defensive lineman Ed Oliver (ankle) and tight end Dawson Knox (back/hip) were limited. Safety Jordan Poyer (foot) was also back at practice.
But Allen said he's not worrying about the Buffalo injury report or secondary. The Bills added former All-Pro Xavier Rhodes to play cornerback -- he's experienced in defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's system from his time with the Vikings -- as injuries forced the team's hand to make the move.
Tre'Davious White is on the physically unable to perform list, cornerback Christian Benford (hand) is out and Dane Jackson returned to practice only Wednesday for the first time since being taken off the field in Week 2 in an ambulance with a neck injury.
"Next man up," Allen said. "(Last week) was one game."
Baltimore's pass defense has been miserable, as the Ravens are allowing 353.3 passing yards per game and a completion percentage of 67.4 percent.
Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs is looking forward to his chances against cornerback Marcus Peters. Peters had an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery last week at New England.
"He's back healthy," Diggs said. "But I do got a lot of family and friends in Baltimore, so it's going to be a packed game," Diggs said, noting he'd have 50 tickets for his crew in Baltimore.
Injuries could be a factor for the Ravens. Running back J.K. Dobbins (chest) was limited Wednesday on the heels of his first game since 2020. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (ankle) was a full participant, but nose tackle Michael Pierce (biceps), outside linebacker Justin Houston (groin), defensive end Calais Campbell (rest), Peters (rest) and offensive tackle Patrick Mekari (ankle) did not participate.
--Field Level Media