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LeSean McCoy’s injury puts the Bills’ winning streak in jeopardy

The NFL's second-leading rusher will be out Sunday, and possibly beyond, with a hamstring injury.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Buffalo Bills Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo rallied from an 0-2 start to become one of the AFC’s top teams behind a dynamic and bruising running game. The Bills aim to keep that streak alive in Week 7 without star running back LeSean McCoy, who will miss the showdown against the Dolphins with a hamstring injury.

McCoy missed practice on Thursday, leaving questions about whether or not he’d be available for Buffalo’s showdown at Miami. Head coach Rex Ryan was optimistic about his tailback’s health, but couldn’t make a definitive statement about his condition.

"We'll see how he progresses the next two days," Ryan said. "[The] injury wasn't full blown. Hopefully he'll play Sunday."

However, Anderson’s report suggests the talented runner won’t just miss this week’s game — he could be out for even longer.

McCoy had been a key figure in Buffalo’s early season renaissance now that he’s been unleashed by new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. The Pro Bowl running back ranks second in the NFL with 587 rushing yards and ran for an average of more than 117 yards per game and a touchdown per game during the Bills’ recent four-game winning streak. With “Shady” in the lineup, Buffalo ran for more yards than any other team in the NFL.

Losing McCoy would be a major blow for a team with nearly as many rushing yards (999) as passing yards (1,026) this season. The former Eagle’s presence in the backfield didn’t just give the Bills offense a reliable engine, it also took the pressure off quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s shoulders. The veteran passer has struggled in his second year as Buffalo’s starter, backsliding in accuracy, yards per pass attempt, and quarterback rating after a breakthrough 2015 season.

McCoy’s absence could create a major opportunity for backup Mike Gillislee. The third-year tailback has been effective in limited carries this fall, gaining 117 yards on just 17 carries. The Bills are undefeated this season (4-0) in games where he touches the ball. A spot start on Sunday could be the audition he’s needed to step into a starting role in upstate New York or elsewhere.

Rookie fifth-rounder Jonathan Williams would also be in line for more playing time if McCoy can’t play. He’s only carried the ball eight times as a professional, but had a stellar college career at the University of Arkansas. He ran for more than 2,300 yards as part of a dynamic Razorbacks tailback platoon before missing his entire senior season due to a foot injury. He hasn’t had the chance to show what he can do with a full workload since 2014, but Sunday’s matchup with the Dolphins could present a major opportunity.