Banged-up Bills use bye to rest and recuperate
By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – Bills coach Dick Jauron wasn’t kidding when he wondered whether he’d have enough players available to practice during the team’s bye week.
The Bills on Tuesday kicked off their first of two scheduled practices this week with 16 players either absent or not participating. Among those not practicing was starting cornerback Terrence McGee who, a day earlier, had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair minor damage.
McGee said he elected to have the procedure done at the start of the team’s two-week break so he could have a chance to recover in time for Buffalo’s game at Tennessee on Nov. 15.
Another notable missing practice was rookie safety Jairus Byrd, who had treatment in Philadelphia on Monday after he aggravated a groin injury related to a sports hernia operation he had last summer.
Also not practicing were starting defensive end Aaron Schobel, who’s nursing a groin injury, and starting linebacker Keith Ellison, who strained his right quadriceps in a 31-10 loss to Houston last weekend. Numerous veterans, including receivers Terrell Owens and Lee Evans, were held out to get a chance to rest.
On the bright side, quarterback Trent Edwards continued practicing and is on track to regain his starting job after missing two games since sustaining a concussion in a 16-13 overtime win over the New York Jets on Oct. 18. Edwards said he’s headache-free but is still experiencing a few symptoms, which he declined to discuss.
After practicing Wednesday, the Bills (3-5) are off until Monday.
McGee’s status is the biggest concern because he’s part of a unit that’s already been riddled with injuries. Buffalo has two defensive starters on injured reserve – linebacker Kawika Mitchell and cornerback Leodis McKelvin – and has spent most of this season without starting safeties Donte Whitner and Bryan Scott.
Whitner’s return is uncertain after he’s missed two games with a sprained ankle. Scott is ready to return after missing five games with a sprained left ankle, though he could be switching positions after practicing with the Bills’ depleted linebacking corps.
McGee was optimistic he won’t miss a game, noting doctors told him he will miss between 10 days and two weeks. McGee was having difficulty walking on crutches in the locker room, and said his knee is swollen and stiff.
Though he has yet to miss a game this season, McGee has been playing with a sore knee since he was hurt in a 38-10 loss at Miami on Oct. 4. The injury has not affected his play. The seventh-year NFL veteran ranks fifth on the team with 38 tackles and is part of a defense that’s been among the NFL’s best against the pass.
Byrd’s status is uncertain after he was sidelined late in the game against Houston. His visit to a specialist this week had already been scheduled. It became more than a routine visit after he recently began experiencing groin pain.
Byrd said he received treatment but will have to wait until next week to determine whether he can resume practicing.
The second-round draft pick out of Oregon has been Buffalo’s top rookie this season. Named the NFL’s rookie of the month last week, Byrd’s seven interceptions are tied for the league lead with Saints veteran Darren Sharper. Byrd had two interceptions against Houston in becoming the first NFL player since San Francisco’s Dave Baker in 1960 to have at least two in three straight games.
Schobel shrugged off any questions about the groin injury he sustained in the first half last weekend, and said he expects to be ready to play against Tennessee.