Rex Ryan on Patriots RB Dion Lewis: Don't even know his name

Until last week, running back Dion Lewis hadn't played in a regular-season game since the 2012 season with Philadelphia. Stew Milne/Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan generating headlines leading into a game against the New England Patriots? No surprise there.

In his Monday news conference in Western New York, Ryan was asked what the Patriots do that enables their "no-name running backs" to thrive. The questioner didn't mention Dion Lewis by name, but referenced "the kid last week" who had "done nothing in the league" and "all of a sudden he's a star."

Ryan's response could be viewed as bulletin-board material in New England.

"It's the kid that's playing quarterback. That'll make it a lot easier to be a running back," he said. "So what, are you gonna play them in eight-man spacing? I don't think so. So that's what makes them -- I don't care, put anybody back there. You can do good there. All right?

"Nah, I mean they're decent backs in their own right. But I don't think we're gonna focus on that kid. I can't even tell you that kid's name. But you're gonna focus on the guy throwing the ball, I'll tell you that much."

Lewis, who hadn't played in a regular-season game since 2012, finished with 69 rushing yards on 15 carries and added four catches for 51 yards in the Patriots' Week 1 win against the Steelers.

Ryan's comment brings back memories of Philadelphia Eagles receiver Freddie Mitchell, who prior to Super Bowl XXXIX said he couldn't name anyone in the secondary outside of Rodney Harrison.