The big news out of Buffalo this morning is, of course, the toe injury of Buffalo Bills WR Terrell Owens. After spraining his toe at an undisclosed point in the Bills' 21-18 loss to the Tennessee Titans in the Hall of Fame Game, Owens missed the Bills' Tuesday walk-through as well as their evening practice. Head Coach Dick Jauron described Owens as "day to day," and would not speculate on whether or not the star receiver will play in this Saturday's pre-season contest against the Chicago Bears.
Unfortunately for Buffalo, Owens isn't the only player injured. Fellow WR Steve Johnson, who returned to practice late last week after a rib injury sidelined him, re-injured the rib when he got tangled up with rookie CB Cary Harris in a drill on Tuesday. Harris landed on Johnson to re-aggravate the injury; from what Johnson told BuffaloBills.com last night, he will likely miss practices for the rest of this week as well as his second straight pre-season game.
Injuries seem to be a constant issue in Buffalo, and it's for that reason that the Bills have had to sign six street free agents over the past few weeks. C Christian Gaddis is the latest, joining WR Shaine Smith, DE Ataefiok Etukeren, DT Derrick Jones, DT Corey Mace and S Antwain Spann as players that have joined the Bills since training camp opened on July 25. However, one injured player did return to the field last night - and as he's a key figure on a revamped offensive line, Brad Butler's return is an important one.
Keeping track of the O-Line
Butler participated fully for the first time since injuring his back early last week, and looked good as he re-assumed his spot as the starting right tackle. It's still unclear if he'll play this Saturday - the coaches and trainers will likely wait to see how his back responds to a full practice load - but for now, the return is good news. Meanwhile, Butler's understudy, Demetrius Bell - who has impressed this pre-season - took reps with the second unit at left tackle.
With Butler back in the fold, Buffalo's entire offensive line is once again healthy. The more they play together this pre-season, the better.
Linebacker dinged, too
Arguably the most impressive Bills linebacker in the Hall of Fame Game was undrafted rookie free agent Ashlee Palmer. It would figure, therefore, that Palmer suffered a severe ankle sprain in the game and could be looking at missing a significant chunk of practice time. Alvin Bowen took his reps with the second unit on the weak side (as well as a few reps on the strong side with the third unit).
Meanwhile, BuffaloBills.com reports that Pat Thomas and Marcus Buggs continue to flip-flop with the second and third units at middle linebacker. Buggs started with the second unit against the Titans; it's therefore logical that Thomas is gearing up to get those reps against the Bears. This is one of the more unique battles going on at the moment; no matter the winner, both of these guys have excellent opportunities to make the final roster.
More lineup changes to note
Aaron Schobel continues to get a lighter work load, but rather than Ryan Denney taking his first-team reps last night - as usually happens - Chris Ellis took those reps, and took advantage of the opportunity by registering two would-be sacks on Trent Edwards, cleanly beating Langston Walker on both plays. That's what we like to hear. Now we just need to see it in a game.
With Owens and Johnson missing time, Josh Reed, Roscoe Parrish and Justin Jenkins shot up the depth chart. Jenkins has had a strong camp and pre-season, and other than an ugly pass interference call against Tennessee, has impressed. Ponder for a moment, however, the prospect of the Bills playing any meaningful games without Owens. Who wouldn't mind if T.O. sat out the rest of the pre-season? We're not advocating it. It's just a thought.
CB Ashton Youboty continues to sit with a lingering groin injury. Three cornerbacks with whom Youboty is jockeying for time - Drayton Florence, Reggie Corner and Ellis Lankster - continue to reap the benefits of his sitting out.
Buffalo has a practice scheduled for the early afternoon on Wednesday. It is doubtful that players such as Owens, Johnson and Palmer will practice. Butler should continue to work; it will also be interesting to see if Youboty returns to action.