Buffalo Bills: Robert Woods Likely Out Against Jacksonville Jaguars

Oct 16, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods (10) runs the ball after a catch during the first half against the San Francisco 49ers at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 16, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Robert Woods (10) runs the ball after a catch during the first half against the San Francisco 49ers at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

After suffering a knee sprain against the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday, early indications are that Robert Woods will not be able to play against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 12. So, if Woods indeed can’t play, how will the Buffalo Bills passing game fare?

When the Jaguars come to New Era Field this week, we’ll find out who the next man up is in the Buffalo Bills‘ receiving corp. Speaking to the media Monday, head coach Rex Ryan made it seem as if the team will be preparing to play without wide receiver Robert Woods.

Understandably, the Bills aren’t saying much about Woods’ injury, but in reality, it could keep the receiver out for longer than just this week’s game.

Thus far, the fourth-year pass catcher has stepped up, doing his best to fill the void left behind with star receiver Sammy Watkins out injured since Week 2. While he has not torched the opposition this season (493 yards receiving and just one touchdown reception), it’s undeniable that he’s been the Bills best option at wide receiver in their run-oriented offense and it hasn’t been close.

Woods leads the Bills with 42 receptions, Charles Clay, a tight end is second with 34 but Marquise Goodwin the wide receiver with the second most catches has just 18.

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A second-round pick out of Southern California back in 2013, Woods has the footwork to consistently separate from defenders and find holes in the defense, giving quarterback Tyrod Taylor a legit threat at the receiver position. Clay can provide much of the same benefits inside at tight end, but out wide, no other Bill has been able to consistently produce.

Sure, Goodwin, who’s tied for the team lead in receiving TDs (3) has had some highlight reel plays and with Olympic speed may very well be the fastest player in the NFL, but for all intents and purposes, he’s never really been anything more than a one-trick-pony: a receiver that you can bomb a go-route to.

Walt Powell, Brandon Tate and Justin Hunter, all who routinely rotate as the Bills’ third and fourth receivers, don’t provide much reason for optimism. Although, Hunter, who’s tied Goodwin with three TD receptions, stands at six-foot-four and has shown that he can be a weapon in the red zone.

Because of a lack of true receiving threats, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn often incorporates his running backs LeSean McCoy (26 receptions) and Reggie Bush into the passing game. Bush, in particular, has the versatility to line up outside of the backfield and run routes.

Buffalo Bills
Nov 20, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Percy Harvin (11) runs against Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Will Clarke (93) during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bills won 16-12. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /

A wildcard for the Bills, though, is recently unretired wide receiver Percy Harvin. Earlier in his career, the veteran showed all of the skills and brilliance of that of a true NFL receiving threat coupled with sheer playmaking ability, as evidenced by the six-year, $67 million deal he received from the Seattle Seahawks back in 2013.

Harvin has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career, which led to him retiring last offseason at 27 years of age, but if he can harness even just some of what use to make him so great he could provide the type of dynamic play that the Bills have been devoid of all season. Since returning to football, Harvin has played only a brief number of snaps but with Woods out, he’ll likely see his role increase.

The Jaguars, who Rex Ryan says are the best two-win team that he’s ever seen, currently ranks fifth in passing defense allowing just a little over 209 yards passing per game on average. The Bills stout running attack, plus Taylor’s mobility in both the run and passing game give the Bills the edge, but if forced to pass, it will be interesting to see who he leans on if he’s able to lean on anyone at all. As well, how effective will the Bills passing threat be.

Next: Is Sammy Watkins Done For The Season?

With only six games remaining, how concerned are you with Robert Woods most likely out against the Jacksonville Jaguars? Do you have faith that another Bill can step up and mitigate his absence, or will it be a rough outing for the Bills passing attack? Let us know in the comments section below.