3 players the Bills need to step up in wake of Von Miller injury news

Buffalo Bills, Von Miller (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)
Buffalo Bills, Von Miller (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images) /
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Buffalo Bills, A.J. Epenesa
Buffalo Bills (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

Now is the time for A.J. Epenesa to ascend for the Bills

Since entering the league as a second rounder two and a half years ago, A.J. Epenesa has been more of a reserve type than anything. At Iowa, he was a highly-touted prospect who was a pure, bullying pass rusher. At the NFL level, he’s been a tad inconsistent and hasn’t earned the full-time role just yet.

Without Miller, though, he’ll need to make the most of his opportunities.

Against the Patriots last Thursday night, Epenesa had an especially efficient game. He came away with a sack and two quarterback hurries, plus he earned a 17.8 percent pass rush win rate.

When Epenesa is asked to go get the quarterback, he is a fine player. His weakness has come against the run and, specifically, simply tackling. He’s missed far too many tackles this year (63 percent missed tackle rate, per Pro Football Focus) and that area of discipline has to be focused on if he’s going to ascend.

Just a few weeks ago against the Vikings, Epenesa was highly active. He came up with a sack, three solo tackles a quarterback hit, a forced fumble and two passes defensed. This is the type of activity the Bills consistently need out of Epenesa, and their line will be just fine going forward.