Bates teamed up with strong security Vonn Bell to form one of the best security groups in the NFL. Going into Sunday’s game, they’re one of only two teams with three safeties ranked in Pro Football Focus’s top 19. Ricardo Allen (4), Bates (11) and Bell (19) join the Bills in this group. And they also pick up Allen on Sunday after his three-week stint in the casualty reserve with a broken arm.
But with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the other side with a team of talented players, Bates says everyone in defense faces their biggest challenge of the young season.
“It will be a bigger test because at all levels, in the wide receiver room, in the running room, in the quarterback, they’re all top players in this league,” Bates said. “That’s why it’s going to be more of a challenge for us. Nothing against the team we’ve played before because we’ve faced other Hall of Fame quarterbacks (read Steelers), but it’s a big deal. C ‘It’s a very good offense, very explosive. Can’t wait to see how we can get out. “
Paul Dehner, Jr. of The Athletic asked Bates a good question during last week’s media session. He wanted to know if Bates could remember the names of the quarterbacks that gave him his nine career interceptions.
Talk about a guy who is not living on his laurels. He must have been pushed to remember that he had gotten Jameis Winston on his only career choice. In the classic free safety style, he had better memories of those he had let go.
“Ryan Tannehil twice, Joe Flacco was my first, Derek Carr,” Bates said. “I should have had Big Ben twice but I let them down. Philip Rivers. Yeah, I had Jameis Winston. That’s all I can think of.”
There are also Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield and Alex Smith. He’s a Super Bowl MVP in Flacco, an NFL MVP in Jackson, and a possible Hall of Fame in Rivers. Bates knows Rodgers is going to the Hall.
“We always have conversations with my family and friends,” Bates said. “If I get an interception, I have to walk up to him and say, hey, can I get your autograph? I hope I can do it.
“He’s obviously one of the best players we’ve ever seen in this league.”
Bates would like to add one of the bigger ones to his list.
“That should be everyone’s goal as a safety in this league,” Bates said. “There are a bunch of really good quarterbacks out there, that’s something I’m looking forward to.”