The Buffalo Bills' run game has seen its fair share of stacked boxes so far this season as teams have tried to force E.J. Manuel to beat them with his arm. With Manuel out and Thad Lewis in, that trend is sure to continue, if not increase, in their matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller's thoughts on the continued pressure? Bring it on.
"Well, we know going into this game these guys are going to want to come in and stop the run," Spiller told reporters Wednesday. "Obviously they're going to want to make Thad throw the ball and beat them.
With us, we want to try and take as much pressure off him as much as possible, and it’s going to be one of those games where you have to take what they give you because these guys don’t give up too many deep runs and stuff like that. It’s going to be one of the most physically games we’ve played so far this season. We look forward to it."
As Spiller alluded to, the Bengals' defense is no slouch against the run, holding opponents to less than 100 yards per game thus far.
Much of that success is due in part to the play of Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, the bookends to the Bengals' defensive line. The two are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, among defensive ends against the run this year, while also creating some havoc in the backfield for the passing game. They've combined for six sacks, 10 QB hits and 16 hurries.
Buffalo has had the most success on the ground in the first and third quarters of games, gaining 60 percent of their total rushing yards in that time and averaging five yards per carry. Jackson, who's averaging nearly five yards a carry himself, has made his presence known right off the bat.
Through five games, the veteran has averaged seven yards a carry in the first quarter. He hopes he and his offensive line can continue that trend, which will hopefully open up opportunities for their inexperienced signal-caller in terms of one-on-one match-ups in play action.
"They’re going to do everything they can to get us out of the running game and make him beat them," Jackson told the media. "I know that’s the challenge he’s (Lewis) looking forward to. It’s a challenge we’re looking forward to. To be able to establish that running game like we’ve been able to thus far this year and hopefully we can continue to do that and get better at doing it."