The best news for the Buffalo Bills as they wrap up spring practices and prepare for the start of 2012 training camp in 34 days? At this point, the fact that the team is expected to have 90 healthy players on July 26 may trump all of the buzz about the team's apparent improvement over the past month or so.
Among the group of players set to return to the practice field at St. John Fisher, four key veterans that missed team activities in June will have a noticeable effect on the depth chart later this summer.
Terrence McGee, cornerback. The thought process at this point is that if McGee is healthy, he's going to be prominently featured as one of the top three corners on the roster when the regular season begins. That's obviously a huge "if," but as McGee will be healthy for training camp, at least, he'll steal reps from one of the trio of Stephon Gilmore, Aaron Williams and Leodis McKelvin, with McKelvin looking like the favorite for odd man out, and the rookie Gilmore looking like the safest from losing reps.
Erik Pears, right tackle. Pears missed all of the team's spring practices while recovering from off-season hernia surgery. When training camp begins, however, he'll be back in his usual spot with the first team as the starting right tackle. His presence there will allow second-year pro Chris Hairston to concentrate largely on playing left tackle, where he'll compete with rookie Cordy Glenn for a starting job.
Torell Troup, defensive tackle. Clearly, Troup's return to the field isn't going to affect the first unit on a loaded defensive line, but it'll have an interesting ripple effect behind the starters. With Spencer Johnson still moonlighting at defensive end, Troup's return could create something of a logjam on the second and third teams between himself, Dwan Edwards, Alex Carrington and Kellen Heard. Edwards would seem like a lock as a second-teamer, but beyond that, it's anyone's guess. (The jury is also still out on how soon Troup will be practicing consistently, considering he's coming off of back surgery.)
Eric Wood, center. While Wood sat out of spring practices, veteran Colin Brown took a large portion of the first-team reps in the pivot. Wood's return to the lineup will push Brown back down to the second team, where it's expected that he'll get a push for a roster spot from rookie sixth-round pick Mark Asper, who can also play center.
What other Bills players returning to full health are you interested to see in training camp?