Bills offensive line responds in a big way vs. Patriots after injuries, Covid has them shuffling positions once again

Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins (73) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

FOXBOROUGH, MA (WIVB) – Dion Dawkins second time with Covid-19 wasn’t nearly as severe as the first time he tested positive before training camp in July that left him in the hospital for four days.

Dawkins tested positive again last Friday leading up to the Bills week 15 matchup with the Panthers but was activated eight days later, on Christmas the day before the biggest game of the season, at New England.

“I actually feel really good, you know way, way, way better. You know I’m smiling, I’m here so I’m happy,” Dawkins said after a 33-21 win over the Patriots.

This time around, Dawkins did not spend any time in the hospital but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a tough time.

“At first it was scary of course because I’m like dang, I mean I was down bad and now I’m down here again, like what could happen? But it was definitely a better outcome than the last time because I didn’t go to the hospital,” Dawkins explained.

Even though Dawkins was activated the day before the game in New England, he wasn’t in the lineup right away. Therefore, rookie Spencer Brown was at left tackle again while Ike Boettger started at left guard, Mitch Morse at center like always, Ryan Bates lined up at right guard for just his second ever career start and Daryl Williams was at right tackle.

The Bills offensive line has constantly been shuffling guys around all season because of injuries and players going on the Covid list. Jon Feliciano and Cody Ford missed the game on the Covid list.

“A resilient group, never good to see a guy go down on the field or off the field and losing guys due to Covid and losing some coaches due to Covid. But I thought it was a very resilient approach by the guys, coaches included,” head coach Sean McDermott said following the game.

“It’s a part of the NFL, you know it’s definitely tough I would say it’s definitely tough but we’ve got great guys that have a great mind about it,” Dawkins said.

“Spence has been at left, he’s been at right, he’s been at left, he’s been at right and Bates jumped in there played right, then played left and whatever we gotta do to win games I mean it’s what it is.”

But Boettger left the game in the second quarter with a torn Achillies’ tendon and did not return.

“We’re really feeling for our guy Ike. It’s a guy who is kind of silent but deadly. He’s been a glue for this offensive line behind the scenes that no one’s really seen. That was a shock for us,” Morse said in his postgame press conference.

When Boettger got hurt, the Bills once again moved guys around as Dawkins came in the game and retook his place at left tackle. Brown moved back over to right tackle while Williams moved inside to right guard and Bates moved over to left guard.

Even with all these changes, the Bills offensive line had one of its best games of the season as Josh Allen wasn’t sacked at all, for the most part had plenty of time to throw and was only hit four times throughout the game.

“I think it was the Christmas presents I got them, they were pumped up and they played a little harder,” Allen joked after the game.

Every year it’s always interesting to see what Allen gets his offensive line, this year it was watches that Allen said were “some nice ones.”

“I’m super proud, just again adversity. Guys being pulled out, you know Ryan Bates stepping up, he played fantastic. Ike goes down, Dion comes back in after being at home with Covid and not really knowing much of the game plan and not actually practicing the game plan, that’s really tough to do. I’m so happy for our guys, how they responded,” Allen said.

“He [Dawkins] just hit the ground running and that just kind of speaks to the professional he is. We’re all trying to grow and be better men and better football players and I think that’s just a testament to him staying mentally engaged in a scary time, right? Like you get Covid twice and the first time it really kind of knocked him down a little bit and then you still have a game plan and you still have to worry about your family, all that stuff and come out here,” Morse said.

“He didn’t miss a beat.”

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