ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Going into the season opener this Sunday against the Steelers, the Bills are pretty healthy especially given the laundry list of injuries they were dealing with a week or two ago.
But they will be without a big piece of their defense as defensive tackle Star Lotulelei has already been ruled out with a calf injury.
The Bills are used to playing without Lotulelei after he opted out of the 2020 season so they’ll have to wait at least one more week to get him back in the lineup.
“We’re gonna miss him. It’s hard to replace a player like that but it’s an opportunity for somebody else to step in and and step up so I think it’s more by committee in particular at that position,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said.
And the Bills can use that “by committee” approach given the emphasis they put on building up their pass rush and the depth they’ve gathered on the defensive line.
“We all love Star, fantastic person, I always say that first. I love the man that he is with his family and the type of leader, unique leadership style that we all appreciate,” Bills defensive tackle Harrison Phillips said.
“In terms of missing him on the field, yeah we had to try and fill that void last year as well. He’s got a unique skill set that is very unique and he excels really good at what he does so we’ll do the best we can. I think our mantra here is always next guy up, best guy up is something we believe in so we’ve practiced all week, had a great training camp. You guys have seen the rotation that we have up front and the depth that we have up front that I think this is something that we can take care of.”
Lotulelei is expected to help the Bills run defense that at times struggled last season. His absence was not only felt in that way but also in how it affected what other players had to do with him out of the lineup. When Lotulelei does return he should help other guys take that next step, like Ed Oliver who is going into his third season.
The only other player on the Bills injury list is wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders who is listsed as questionable with a foot injury. Sanders was limited in practice all week.