BUFFALO, NY — In the hours after the decision was made to move the Buffalo Bills home game against the Cleveland Browns to Ford Field in Detroit, the area around Highmark Stadium received three feet of snow and more is expected to fall will.
The Bills made the decision to cancel Friday’s practice for the safety of players and staff; However, the team meets virtually. A handful of players who live in the Orchard Park, New York area are among those without power. The game remains scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on CBS.
“I want to make sure I can look the guys in the eye and most of the guys have been able to get through, including the staff,” coach Sean McDermott said of the team’s morning zoom. “But for the most part everyone looked safe and fine. Sometimes things get a little bit bigger than football and then we also have to understand and remember that there are people out there who are working on it and they have to go to hospitals and stuff like that.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 18, 2022
“So today there is a lot more that is more important than football.”
The Bills still expect to travel to Detroit on Saturday but may have to shift the team’s normal away game schedule from the typical 1 p.m. ET departure time due to snow forecasts on Friday and overnight into Saturday. The team wants to give players time to leave their homes and ensure their families are safe.
“I’m playing a bit of a wait and see game right now but expect to have to postpone some things tomorrow morning if that is the case [the snow] slowing down,” said McDermott. “Last thing we heard is it’s supposed to slow down tomorrow morning around the stadium here and Orchard Park and so on and then give the lads time to dig out and make sure their families are good and then we’ll go into the.” going facility, probably with a deferred schedule just to make that possible.
However, the team will do without a linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (groin/heel), defensive end Gregory Rousseau (high ankle sprain) and cornerback Tre’Davious White for the game, per McDermott. White has now been on the active list for three weeks after the 21 day training window on the PUP list ended but has not yet played. He was not included in the team’s injury report as he continues to work his way back from a cruciate ligament rupture.
“[White’s] just not ready to play,” McDermott said.
security Jordan Poyer (elbows), cornerback Kai Elam and full-back Reggie Gilliam (disease) are all of concern for the game. If the Bills had practiced on Friday, Poyer and Elam would have been full participants, which bodes well for their potential availability on Sunday.
The decision was made not to leave for Detroit earlier as the venue change was not achieved until Thursday afternoon. General manager Brandon Beane said if it had been done earlier they might have considered leaving the team before the storm began Thursday night. The side decided to stick as close to their normal away routine as possible.
The plan is to return after Sunday’s game and spend a few days at the facility before returning to Detroit on Wednesday to play the Lions on Thanksgiving.
“Sea [McDermott] does a great job of messaging and making sure our boys get it,” Beane said. “It will still be a football game. Everything else the same. It’s a short flight. We’ll try to keep it as routine as possible. Is it a minor annoyance? Yes. But I think our boys are professionals. You understand.”
The Bills practiced indoors Wednesday because of the weather, but held more individual periods than normal practice because they didn’t have enough players due to injuries and illnesses. The team expect players dealing with illness to come back for the game, with Gilliam being the only one with an injury designation.
They practiced outside on Thursday in anticipation of the game at Orchard Park and held an extra walk-through on Thursday after the decision was made to postpone the game.
“The decision to move the game to Detroit has everything to do with security,” said Ron Raccuia, Bills executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Safety first has really been what we’ve been talking about here for the past 48 to 72 hours.”