In the Week 2 preview, we detailed some similarities between the head coaches of the Dolphins and Bills. Brian Flores and Sean McDermott both worked their way up the coaching ladder through grit, toughness and perseverance.
McDermott and Bills General Manager Brandon Beane, like Flores and Dolphins GM Chris Grier, put an emphasis on acquiring players that embody those same traits of mental fortitude. Thursday, Flores talked about McDermott's Bills, the Dolphins opponent on Sunday.
"This is a good football team offensively, defensively and in the kicking game," Flores said. "They are well coached. They are tough. They're physical. Every game is important. It doesn't matter who you are playing in this league, they are all tough. They are all important. Obviously division games are very important."
Another element of emphasis for Flores is communication; both on the field and every facet of his Miami Dolphins program. One of the captains of Flores and Josh Boyer's defense – Bobby McCain – is the longest-tenured Dolphin on that side of the football.
Both McCain and fellow safety Eric Rowe are cornerback converts. Now in their second season together at their new positions, Flores says the communication rapport being built in that room is something both players take a lot of pride it, even if it's still a work in progress.
"Eric and Bobby, they have a little bit of a rapport, so you add Brandon (Jones) to that, you add Kavon Frazier to that and you have a mix of different people," Flores said. "We're still trying to build that communication, that rapport; but those two guys, it's very important to them so they'll do what it takes to build those relationships and try to do it the way we're asking them to do it."
McCain touched on the growth at the new position from his perspective.
"I wouldn't call it getting comfortable, just getting better," McCain said. "I want to put good stuff on tape. It's my second year playing safety and I'm getting better every day."
Now in his sixth year, McCain knows this Buffalo team all too well. He understands what the rivalry means.
"It's a division rival game. They don't like us we don't like them," McCain said. "They have good players, we know that. We have good players here, they know that. It's going to be a fight each quarter, each series, each play. It's a division rivalry, they count for two (games)."
McCain discussed his position mate Brandon Jones. He was asked what's most impressive about the rookie's Week 1 performance and work throughout training camp.
"He's a fast player. He gets to the ball," McCain said. "Even though he's a rookie, he's a guy we want to depend on and he's going to have to play good and play well."
At his Thursday media availability, Flores talked about the balance of utilizing rookies without putting too much on their plate. Coaching at this level for the better part of two decades, Flores shared his experience of what makes young players grow, improve and find their niche in this league compared to those that don't last.
"You need stretches of games of consistency to really feel good that they understand how to be a professional, that complacency doesn't set in and 'we've got all the answers and watch a little less tape,'" Flores said. "To me, those are the things that I try to harp on. Good performance or bad performance, you still have to watch the film."
Shifting from the secondary to the front seven, Emmanuel Ogbah is a mainstay on the Dolphins defensive line. The 275-pound free agent acquisition from this past offseason logged 55 snaps in the opener – 87 percent of Miami's defensive workload.
Thursday, Ogbah talked about areas of improvement for the Dolphins run defense, including the challenges of the zone read and setting the edge as the force defender.
"It kind of just depends if you're the force player," Ogbah said of defending zone read. "You have to make sure the quarterback either has the ball or doesn't have the ball, so it can slow you down a little bit. We're trained to do it. We just have to do a better job this week."
Ogbah was also asked about his goal as the edge setter in any particular play. Setting the edge refers to the player tasked with forcing the ball carrier back inside. The idea is to prevent the runner from getting to the perimeter and forcing him back to where the defense's help (more bodies) is aligned.
"The most important job (with setting the edge) is you have to get to the tackle or the tight end as fast as possible because you want to set the edge one yard up the field," Ogbah said. "If we can do that, that will help a lot, and we need guys corralling to the ball when we set the edge. If you set the edge without anybody running to the ball then there's a free lane for him to keep running. It takes the whole team to get after it."
On the other side of the football, Ereck Flowers is making his Dolphins home debut. Flowers grew up in the shadow of Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
"I grew up going to training camp and the games," Flowers said. "I've always followed the Dolphins. It's really a dream come true."
Just playing for the Dolphins isn't enough for Flowers. He has a desire to help build a winner in his hometown. Asked about how he hopes people perceive the Dolphins line's identity, Flowers believes there's one specific term that leads to winning in the trenches.
"I want our identity to be technical," Flowers said. "Hard-nosed and physical, but technical. The good offensive lines are technical in hand placement, combo blocks, games. That's what really wins."
Thursday Injury Report
Wide receiver Jakeem Grant (calf) was removed Thursday from the Dolphins injury report.
Linebacker Elandon Roberts (concussion) was the only player not on the field Thursday for Miami.
Four players were limited participants in practice for Miami: wide receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring), safety Clayton Fejedelem (pectoral) and cornerbacks Xavien Howard (knee) and Byron Jones (Achilles).
Two Dolphins were listed on the report but participated in full. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy (hand) and Preston Williams (knee) were on the field Thursday.
The visiting Buffalo Bills listed nine players on their Thursday injury report.
Defensive end Jerry Hughes (calf) and wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (hamstring) were added on Thursday after not being listed on Wednesday.
Two players did not practice for the Bills. Linebackers Matt Milano (hamstring) and Del'Shawn Phillips (quadriceps) were not on the field Thursday making it two missed practices in a row for both players.
Linebacker Tyrell Dodson (neck) and wide receiver John Brown (foot) were upgraded from limited and did not practice designations on Wednesday to full participants on Thursday.
Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (shoulder) and quarterback Jake Fromm (not injury related) were limited again on Thursday.
Defensive tackle Vernon Butler was listed for a hamstring, but was a full participant.