BUFFALO, N.Y. — 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 surrounding Highmark Stadium received three feet of snow with more expected to fall.
The Bills made the decision to cancel Friday’s practice for the safety of players and staff; however, the team is meeting virtually. A handful of players who live in the area of Orchard Park, New York, 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 guys in the eye and most of the guys were able to get on, staff included,” coach Sean McDermott said of the team’s morning Zoom. “But for the most part everyone looked like they were safe and doing well. Sometimes things get a little bit bigger than football and then I think the thing we also have to understand and remember is that there’s people out there that are working in this and having to get to hospitals and whatnot.
“So, there’s a lot a lot more going on that’s more important than football today.”
The Bills are still expecting to travel to Detroit on Saturday but may have to push back the team’s normal away game schedule from the typical 1 p.m. EST departure time due to the snow expected Friday and overnight into Saturday. The team wants to give players time to get out of their homes and make sure their families are safe.
“Playing a little bit of a wait and see game right now but anticipating having to move some things back in the morning if [the snow] does slow down,” McDermott said. “Which that’s the latest we’re hearing, is it’s supposed to slow down early tomorrow morning around the stadium here and in Orchard Park and whatnot, and then give guys time to dig out, make sure their families are good, and then we’ll head into the facility, probably in a move back schedule, just to allow for that.”
The team will, however, be without linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (groin), defensive end Greg Rousseau (high ankle sprain) and cornerback Tre’Davious White for the game, per McDermott. White has now been on the active roster for three weeks after 21-day practice window on the PUP list ended but has yet to play. He has not been listed on the team’s injury report as he continues to work his way back from a torn ACL.
“[White’s] just not ready to play,” McDermott said.
The decision was made not to leave for Detroit sooner because the change in venue wasn’t reached until Thursday afternoon. General manager Brandon Beane said if it had been made sooner, maybe they would have considered the team leaving before the storm started Thursday night. The team decided to stick to as close to their normal away game routine as possible.
The plan is to return after Sunday’s game and spend a couple of days at the facility before heading back to Detroit on Wednesday to play the Lions on Thanksgiving.
“Sean [McDermott] does a great job of messaging and making sure our guys understand,” Beane said. “It’s still going to be a football game. Everything else the same. It’s a short flight. We’re going to try to keep it as routine as possible. Is it a little disruption? Yes. But I think our guys are pros. They understand it.”
The Bills practiced indoors Wednesday due to weather but held more individual periods than a normal practice due to not have enough players due to injury and illness. The team is expecting to get the players dealing with illness back for the game.
They practiced outside Thursday in anticipation of the game being held in Orchard Park and held an addition walk-through Thursday after the decision was made to move the game.
“The decision to move the game to Detroit has everything to do about safety,” Bills executive vice president and chief operating officer Ron Raccuia said. “Safety first has been what we’ve been talking about here, really for the last 48 to 72 hours.”
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