As the Buffalo Bills prepare for their Thursday Night Football matchup with the division rival New England Patriots, they start the practice week again without a large number of players because, once again, illness has invaded the locker room.
Head coach Sean McDermott met with members of the media on Sunday before the Bills took to the practice field ahead of the Week 13 primetime game. McDermott rattled off a long list of players who won’t be practicing due to illness:
- CB Siran Neal
- S Jordan Poyer
- CB Dane Jackson
- LB Tyler Matakevich
- RB Nyheim Hines
- S Jaquan Johnson
- WR Khalil Shakir
- TE Quintin Morris
The good news for Buffalo is that two weeks ago, when the Bills had a number of players affected by illness before they had to make their way through six-plus feet of snow in order to get to Detroit, the illness made its way out and none of the affected players had to miss any actual game time.
“Illness is out there. Families get it. These guys are human,” McDermott said in response to whether there is anything concerning going on in Buffalo’s locker room, now that they are dealing with a second round of illness in less than 14 days.
In addition to the players affected by illness, McDermott confirmed that pass rusher Von Miller, who injured his knee on Thanksgiving Day and is waiting a week to see how it feels before making any decisions on how he wants to approach the rest of the season, will not practice today.
Added to the not-practicing list are left tackle Dion Dawkins, who injured his ankle on Thursday, and defensive end A.J. Epenesa, who injured his ankle during the Bills’ Week 11 win over the Cleveland Browns.
The good news for Buffalo is that center Mitch Morse will be back to practice. The patchwork attempt to put together an offensive line after Dawkins didn’t return to the Thanksgiving game was not particularly successful. Morse wasn’t active for that game, as he was sidelined with an ankle injury he suffered three days prior in the game against Cleveland. While Morse was questionable going into game day last week, it wasn’t surprising when he couldn’t make the cut for Thanksgiving. Now, however, there is hope he might make it back for this Thursday’s game against the Patriots.
Other good news comes in the fact that McDermott listed both linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (groin) and defensive end Greg Rousseau (ankle) as practicing today. With Miller out for this week — and at least five more days, at which point Miller’s injury will be re-assessed — having Rousseau would be a huge asset. It would also be a morale booster for a defense that has had all but two of their starters, Taron Johnson and DaQuan Jones, miss a combined 32 games this season.
In addition, guard Ike Boettger, Buffalo’s offensive guard who tore his Achilles tendon late last season as the Bills beat the New England Patriots to claim the AFC East lead, will officially practice with the team today. The practice means that the team will open the 21-day window, in which they will have to decide whether they will add the veteran to their 53-man roster or designate him for season-ending IR.
“We welcome back to practice Ike Boettger,” McDermott said, but, per his usual, declined to comment on the guard’s condition and how much work it will take to get him back in the lineup. “He’s been through a long journey, and we appreciate everything he’s been through to get back.”
We will update with the complete injury report when the team makes it available after practice.