The Bills have reached the breaking point with injuries. They are so decimated on the defensive side of the ball that two players who were signed a week ago saw playing time against the Patriots -- cornerback Bryan Scott and linebacker Leon Joe.
Buffalo is now playing without five starters - free safety Ko Simpson (broken ankle), cornerback Jason Webster (broken forearm) and linebacker Paul Posluszny (broken forearm), who are out for the season, and cornerback Terrence McGee (missed the New England game with a rib injury) and linebacker Keith Ellison (out since the start of the year with a high ankle sprain).
In addition, two key reserves -- linebacker Coy Wire (knee) and DE Ryan Denney (broken foot) -- are out at least until the bye week, which comes the weekend of Oct. 7. The Bills also lost defensive end Al Wallace after just one preseason game with a shoulder injury. He had been signed to replace Denney. And defensive end Anthony Hargrove has one more game to serve on his substance-abuse suspension.
Now the injuries are trickling over to the offense. Tight end Kevin Everett's career was ended by a spinal-cord injury, though the news continues to be encouraging regarding his recovery and it appears he will be able to walk and gain full use of his extremities. In New England, quarterback J.P. Losman suffered a grade one sprain of his left knee and will be out at least two games, and backup offensive lineman Jason Whittle tore a hamstring and will be sidelined indefinitely.
On Losman, coach Dick Jauron said Monday "We'll have to wait through to see how they respond. Bud (Carpenter, the team trainer) said they respond differently and it hasn't even been 24 hours since the injury so we'll wait and see on that."
|Quarterback JP Losman of the Buffalo Bills is injured during a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium September 23, 2007 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) |
The Bills signed quarterback Craig Nall, who they cut at the end of training camp, to back up new starter Trent Edwards. They have to make room on the roster for Nall, and it looks as if either Posluszny or Whittle will be placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Edwards will get the full dose of reps in practice this week as the Bills get ready to play the Jets, and Jauron said it will be a process getting him ready to go.
"We'll go backwards before we go forwards with that," said Jauron. "In other words, we'll start the week and we'll reduce it to where he's got a comfort level. And his comfort level will probably be a lot larger than ours because he's a very bright guy and he's a very confident guy. I think he's going to feel like he can do the whole thing. We'll see how we feel as we work our way through the week, but we're excited about the fact that we believe this guy is a talented guy, we picked him for a reason."
Jauron did not rule out the team going out to find another linebacker. With Posluszny, Ellison and Wire out, the Bills are using players who normally play only on special teams like Mario Haggan and Josh Stamer, and Jauron doesn't like to do that because he feels it compromises the kicking game.
"We'll definitely have to do something," Jauron said. "We're just kind of running out of guys. We'll look and see who's available and decide if we need to move in that direction. We'll reassess the nature of our guys that are injured, when we expect them back but I don't think that's going to move. We've got to make some decisions here in the next couple of days."
So what do the Bills do in this time of injury crisis?
"We just go, that's what we do," said Jauron. "That's what we all do when things happen to you, you've got a choice and you can either feel sorry for yourself or move on. And our guys chose to move, which is the right decision. They're really good about it. They are. They're real professional about their approach. They'll be all right in that regard. We've just got to perform better."
--Quarterback J.P. Losman questioned the hit by New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork that strained a ligament in his left knee and forced him to the sideline after the first series. Losman will likely be out at least the next two games against the Jets and Cowboys. Wilfork broke through the line and plowed into Losman's leg just after he released a short pass to Marshawn Lynch. Losman's knee bent awkwardly, and though he played two more snaps, he couldn't move. Wilfork was penalized 15 yards. "Did I feel it was late? Yeah, I felt it was late," said Losman. "I don't know how late or significant or if it was intentional or anything like that. We'll have to evaluate it and see it on film." Wilfork may be facing a fine.
--Wide receiver Lee Evans is now three weeks into a nightmare of a season. He was held to one catch for seven yards by the Patriots and for the year, he has a paltry five receptions for 29 yards. This from a player who caught 82 balls for 1,292 yards and eight TDs last year, and whose 178 catches for 2,878 yards are the most ever by a Bills receiver in his first three years with the team. "We had one good drive," Evans said of the offense, which ranks dead last in the NFL. "After that one good drive, we couldn't manufacture anything. There were mistakes all over the field." The Bills claim they were going to try to open things up against the Patriots, but once Losman went out, the game plan had to be altered for rookie Trent Edwards, who saw his first regular-season NFL action.
--The Bills re-signed quarterback Craig Nall to a one-year contract on Monday because they knew they couldn't go into Sunday's game against the Jets with Edwards as the starter and practice squad player Kevin Eakin as the backup. Nall was released at the end of the preseason when the team decided to go with two quarterbacks on the active roster, and he was not picked up by another team. Nall spent the first four seasons of his NFL career as Brett Favre's backup in Green Bay before signing with the Bills in 2006 to compete for a starting job. However, he suffered a hamstring injury in that training camp and was never a factor in Buffalo. He has thrown just 33 NFL passes in six games, completing 23 for 314 yards and four TDs.
--The Bills coaching staff made a curious decision on special teams in New England. Star kickoff returner Terrence McGee was inactive because of a rib injury, but rather than send dangerous Roscoe Parrish back to return kicks, the Bills opted for veteran Josh Scobey. Parrish is the team's punt returner and one of its wide receivers. However, Parrish caught only two passes for 27 yards, and did not get to return a punt as both of the Patriots' kicks went out of bounds. Meanwhile, Scobey returned five kickoffs for a mere 22.4-yard average. The Bills' average drive start after kickoffs was their own 21.
--LB Paul Posluszny underwent surgery to repair his broken left forearm on Monday and is out for the season.
--KR Josh Scobey took inactive Terrence McGee's place and managed just a 22.4-yard average on five returns. He also suffered a slight knee injury in the game, but was able to return.
--DE Aaron Schobel registered half a sack of Tom Brady and that enabled him to tie Phil Hansen for second place on the team's all-time sack list with 61.5. Also, 11 of his sacks have come against Tom Brady, the most any player has sacked Brady.
--LB John DiGiorgio began the game on the outside, then moved inside when Posluszny was injured and he made a game-high 12 tackles.
--TE Michael Gaines, one of a number of players who have joined the Bills since the start of the regular season, caught a pass for the second straight game.