ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — A.J. Klein was a punching bag for Bills fans earlier in the season.

He was missing tackles and getting beat in coverage.

However, something has changed over the past three games that has Klein playing the best football of his entire career.

“For me, it was finding that familiarity and just going out and playing free,” Klein said Thursday.

That freedom helped Klein earn AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors on Thursday after recording a career-high 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 TFL, and 1 PBU.

Even with it being the first time he’s ever won the award, the Bills linebacker downplaying things.

“Accolades are just a testament to what we’ve been doing as a defense, to be honest,” Klein said. “I was lucky enough to be put in the position to be able to make plays, but that goes with the defensive scheme and the coaches and everybody on the defense doing their job. So everything in this league I take with a grain of salt. That’s not the tip of the iceberg and personal accolades are not what we play for, not what I play for.”

Exactly how Klein fit into things with the Bills defense was unknown in the beginning.

“I think early on that was a little bit of a feeling-out process on his part and ours as well,” defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said earlier in the week. “We had an outside linebacker in Matt Milano who has been very, very productive in that role.”