The Buffalo Bills are getting healthier - and, more importantly, they're getting closer to fielding their full roster for the first time this season. Not only have several players returned to practice - with perhaps a few more to follow shortly - but the Bills are rapidly moving towards signing first-round pick DE Aaron Maybin as well.
Maybin update: signing should happen any time now
We already knew that ESPN's John Clayton on Wednesday night reported his belief that the Bills and Maybin would reach a deal "within 24-48 hours." Last night, Sal Capaccio echoed those sentiments, noting that significant progress had been made in negotiations. Capaccio also reports that when the dust settles, Maybin is expected to sign for a deal that puts him in the ballpark of $26 million with $14-15 million guaranteed over five years.
Meanwhile, ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted last night that, after the Packers signed DT B.J. Raji, he anticipated that Jaguars OT Eugene Monroe would be the next to sign, followed closely by Maybin. That tweet was supplemented by another tweet this morning, where Schefter lets us know that a Monroe signing should take place today (Friday). We're at the point now where a Maybin signing could literally happen any moment. Stay tuned.
Owens to return Monday
WR Terrell Owens, who has missed all of this week's practices as he receives treatment on a sprained toe, will not play in this Saturday's pre-season home contest against the Chicago Bears - thus rendering a boring pre-season game all the less exciting. But there is good news - Owens is expected to return to the practice field on Monday. Concerns that Owens' body was getting frail or that the toe injury could really be a turf toe seem, at least for now, to be premature.
PUP players making progress
To this point, WR James Hardy and rookie FS Jairus Byrd have not participated in a single pre-season practice, as each recovers from off-season surgeries. However, both appear close to ready to return to the practice field.
BuffaloBills.com reports this morning that Hardy has been going full-speed in individual drills. There is still no timetable for his return, but his knee is fully healed and Bills trainers are working on getting him ready for the rigors of a season.
Meanwhile, while I was at camp last Thursday and Friday (August 6-7), I was informed that Byrd, at that point in time, was in great shape working out between practices, but was still around 10 days away from returning to the field. By my count, unless there has been a setback - and given that Byrd continues to work out with Hardy between practices, that seems unlikely - Byrd should be on the field by the middle of next week. If our speculation is correct - and I believe it is - Maybin and Byrd may make their pro debuts in the same pre-season game, likely the August 29 tilt in Pittsburgh.
Players returning to practice
Ashton Youboty missed practices late last week and early this week, but returned to the practice field on Thursday night. He'll re-commence his mission for playing time in a crowded Bills defensive backfield. DE Copeland Bryan, who at this point only has a few practices under his belt, returned from a hamstring injury last night as well and was immediately inserted into the second-team defense at left end (bumping Chris Ellis down the depth chart). Xavier Omon also returned to the field.
LB Pat Thomas and FS Ko Simpson did not practice Thursday, but both players' respective injuries are considered minor. WR Steve Johnson continues to deal with a rib issue, but he, too, is expected to return next week along with another injured WR, Felton Huggins.
As it stands right now, the Bills stand to close camp (which is approaching quickly, by the way) with only one semi-serious injury situation. LB Ashlee Palmer sprained his ankle in the Hall of Fame Game, and though Dick Jauron labeled him "week to week," Palmer might be hunkering down to miss a significant chunk of time. Still, considering the seemingly imminent Maybin signing, the return to health of Owens and the PUP players, and the fact that there is only one truly serious injury right now, things are looking a bit brighter in Buffalo this morning.