August 13, 2012; Pittsford, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills tackle Erik Pears (79) on the field during training camp at St. John Fisher College. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-US PRESSWIRE
The Buffalo Bills practiced without just two players on Monday as they began preparations for the New York Jets: quarterback/wide receiver Brad Smith and cornerback Ron Brooks. The rookie defensive back will be shelved for the foreseeable future coming off of foot surgery, while Smith remains hobbled by a groin injury suffered in the pre-season finale.
In a typical regular season week, if a player hasn't practiced by Friday, he's unlikely to suit up for the Bills. Brooks obviously won't be playing, but it's not yet time to rule out Smith, who will serve as the team's fifth receiver and as a special teams player for the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, three veterans that missed at least part of the pre-season were back on the practice field on Monday: right tackle Erik Pears, defensive end Mark Anderson and cornerback Terrence McGee. Pears and McGee are the bigger worries for now when it comes to Week 1 availability, but head coach Chan Gailey sounded pleased with the way both players looked this afternoon.
The big worry on the Jets' end of things seems to be nose tackle Sione Po'uha, who has been dealing with a back injury all pre-season. He's not a player that would play a lot against an offense like Buffalo's, anyway, but as one of the team's better defenders, that's a situation worth monitoring nonetheless.
Finally, despite some worry about the status of tight end Dustin Keller (hamstring), he appears set to practice on Wednesday, and should be fine for Sunday against a Bills defense that has struggled to defend tight ends in recent seasons.