ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — This is hardly just another normal week for the Bills.
That includes the scout team.
It’s nearly impossible to simulate what Lamar Jackson can do as a super-dangerous duel threat quarterback. As Sean McDermott said Monday, if you have a guy that can do that, you don’t want to waste him on the practice squad.
The Bills may have an answer to this conundrum in second year wideout Ray-Ray McCloud.
The job of playing “practice Lamar” fell to McCloud this week. He has some decent credentials, rushing for over 5,700 hundred yards and 60 TDs in high school.
McCloud says he is familiar with Jackson’s running style after facing him twice in college as ACC rivals (McCloud went to Clemson. Jackson is from Louisville). In fact, McCloud doesn’t even have to work all that hard to simulate Jackson.
“Be myself honestly,” McCloud said. “I know how he runs. I know how he moves. Some of his ways I run with dead legs, being quick, explosive. Just give them a good look.”
McCloud is actually pretty close to Jackson. Raiders corner Treyvon Mullen is Jackson’s cousin and was also McCloud’s college roommate.
The Bills defensive players all complimented McCloud’s impression of Jackson in practice Wednesday. The offensive players are getting a kick out of it, as well.
“He’s out there running around, running from sideline to sideline. All the offensive guys are clapping, cheering him on because that’s their guy,” Micah Hyde said. “He’s giving us a good look. That’s exactly how Lamar is going to do it.”
“Ray-Ray is giving us the best look,” Shaq Lawson said. “He moves like him. He gave us a great look today.”
There are a few specific things about Jackson that McCloud wants the Bills defense to see.
“Making plays longer. Changing direction,” McCloud said. “I might roll out right and go back left across the field, just changing the game and different stuff like that.”
Lorenzo Alexander said the Bills might have to watch a bit more film this week because the run fits against Jackson are a little different. He also says the aggressive approach the Bills have used on defense the past three weeks should continue.
“You can’t sit back and allow an athlete to have space. At some point, you have to eat that grass up and make it a phone booth type game to be able to get him down,” Alexander said. “If I’m sitting back here trying to be patient and let him dance with me, he’s going to break me down eventually. You have to be aggressive and then count on your teammates, once they’ve established their gap, that they’re running to the ball, too.”
Many of the Bills compared getting ready for this game to getting ready for a game in high school or college where they faced more option or run based teams.
Hyde recalled that preparing for a bowl game against option based Georgia Tech was “miserable”. He hated dealing with cut blocks in practice every day for a month.
There are still lessons to be learned for this game.
“It’s gonna be a grind out game. You have to go into this game knowing that,” Hyde said.
It’s not all work for McCloud this week. He also gets to show off the throwing arm a few times, much to the chagrin of John Brown.
“I didn’t know you could throw like that,” was the reaction Brown gave McCloud in practice Wednesday. McCloud says he has the better arm. “You threw one little open touchdown (against Dallas),” McCloud said he told Brown. “We did argue about it.”
As the era of multi-threat offensive players begins to dawn in the NFL, the Bills may have them falling out of their ears.