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Bills Know Ball Security Will be Especially Crucial Against Colts

The teams rank 1-2 in the NFL in takeaways and turnover differential.

Sean McDermott spent a portion of Wednesday's Buffalo Bills practice chasing his ballcarriers around with a stick. The object was to try poking the football loose with a clenched boxing glove that was attached to the end.

Though that practice is not uncommon around the NFL, it's unusual to see a head coach doing it himself.

But McDermott certainly senses how much more important ball security will mean on Sunday, when his team hosts the Indianapolis Colts. So that could be the reason for such a hands-on approach by someone who knows a little about breaking grips.

McDermott was a two-time National Prep champion as a wrestler at La Salle High School who at age 47 appears to have the same body (and athletic ability) as he did 30 years ago.

Involving himself in the action assured that he would be at Ground Zero of their preparation for a defense that's essentially a mirror image of theirs.

The Bills lead the NFL with 24 takeaways (15 interceptions, nine fumble recoveries. Right behind them are the Colts at 21 (10 interceptions, league-best 11 fumble recoveries).

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"I think they play with a lot of vision on the quarterback," McDermott said. "And it seems like they do some things at a high level. Again, it all starts with the players. They've got skill players and they've got good coaches that develop the players. So they've got a good thing going."

Perhaps the Colts' biggest game-wrecker on defense is linebacker Darius Leonard, who has a league-high four forced fumbles to go with three recoveries and two interceptions. He's already exceeded his production from last season, when he was a first-team All-Pro.

The Bills know they're just about impossible to beat when they don't turn the ball over and that they've been more lucky than good in that department so far. They've fumbled 15 times this season, losing only four. Running back Devin Singletary and quarterback Josh Allen are the main culprits, with five apiece.

McDermott knows how fortunate they've been, which could explain his actions on Wednesday.

Anything to show how much protecting the ball will mean down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to