Neither snowstorm nor driving ban prevents Bills from practicing in preparation to host Chiefs

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Despite a second major lake-effect storm hitting the Buffalo region in less than a week, Bills quarterback Josh Allen had no trouble getting to practice on Wednesday morning because much of the snow was falling north of his home.

That doesn’t mean the quarterback lacks a backup plan in his neighbor, who goes by “Squirrel.”

“Nope, no Squirrel yet,” he said, referring to Dave “Squirrel” Winter, a retired farmer, who has dug Allen out in the past. “But I’m sure the next few days,” he added, before asking how much longer the storm might last.

Informed the snow might keep falling through Friday, Allen shrugged and said: “Yeah, Buffalo weather. We’ll figure it out.”

The ever-resourceful Bills have become accustomed to Mother Nature throwing a snowball or two into their schedule.

It happened in 2022, when a major storm forced the Bills into relocating their home game against Cleveland to Detroit. It happened again last weekend, when a winter storm led to Buffalo’s playoff-opening 31-17 win against Pittsburgh being moved from Sunday to Monday.

On Wednesday, neither frigid blowing winds, the prospect of another 2 feet of snow being dumped on the region nor an Erie County-imposed travel ban could prevent the Bills (12-6) from showing up for practice in preparation to host the Kansas City Chiefs (12-6) in a divisional round playoff game on Sunday night.

The storm is not expected to impact the game, with Sunday’s forecast calling for no precipitation, with partly cloudy skies and a low of 11 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-12 Celsius). And snow removal crews were already busy at the stadium clearing parking lots and concourses.

More important for the Bills was not losing a day of meetings and practice during an already shortened week following a Monday game, and with the Chiefs rested after their 26-7 win against Miami on Saturday night.

“The sport thrives on routine,” center Mitch Morse said. “Just to be able to have an opportunity to work it in person, that’s great. It’s just so hard to do sometimes over Zoom.”

With the sun shining and major roads clear around the Bills facility in Orchard Park, coach Sean McDermott said all players were in attendance for meetings and a brief walk-through practice, which he pushed back an hour to take into account the morning snowfall.

“We prioritized the players’ safety and everyone’s safety as best we could here, and just a phenomenal job by everyone that’s out there working so hard to clear the roads,” McDermott said.

County executive Mark Poloncarz did not respond to messages from The Associated Press seeking comment on whether the Bills were given permission to violate a travel ban that included Orchard Park and its surrounding towns. Poloncarz, however, did post a comment on X, previously known as Twitter, in which he specifically thanked “most” for staying off the roads.

The storm, which spent much of the day centered on Buffalo, led to the NHL shifting the Sabres' home game against the Chicago Blackhawks from Wednesday to Thursday.

At the Bills facility, defensive tackle Ed Oliver has become adept to dealing with Buffalo storms. From Houston, Oliver said he now owns a tractor with a snowblower attached to the front, which he can direct from the driver’s seat.

“I knew it was coming,” the fifth-year player said, referring to the storm. “We’ve been spared up until this point and then, all of a sudden in typical Buffalo fashion, it decides it’s gonna snow for the next week or two.”

The wintry weather is new to rookie guard O’Cyrus Torrence, who’s from Greensburg, Louisiana, and split his college career between Louisiana-Lafayette and Florida.

“It’s a job. You gotta make sure you wake up early in the morning and see how bad it is and give yourself time to clean out and get ready,” said Torrence, who woke up an hour earlier than normal to make sure he could make it to practice. “I’d be lying if I said I’m accustomed to it.”

All safety Micah Hyde has known through his past seven seasons in Buffalo and first four in Green Bay is dealing with snow at this time of year.

He sighed heavily when asked if it ever gets old.

“I’m not gonna lie. When I woke up today, I was like, 'Ugh.’” Hyde said, smiling. “Yeah, I’ve been in it before. Obviously, this is nothing new. But that took me for a loop this morning.”

NOTES: The Bills signed P Matt Haack to their practice squad as insurance in the event Sam Martin is unable to play after hurting his left hamstring on Monday. Haack is a seventh-year player who spent the 2021 season in Buffalo. ... CB Rasul Douglas (knee) and LB Tyrel Dodson (shoulder) practiced on a limited basis after both didn’t play Monday. ... McDermott said the team is taking a day-by-day approach to the six injured players who did not practice, including WR Gabe Davis (knee), LB Terrel Bernard (ankle) and CB Christian Benford (knee).