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A.J. Epenesa returns to practice for the Buffalo Bills

As Patriots Week begins, only two of the Bills’ non-participants are injury-related; the rest are out with an illness

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills practiced in Highmark Stadium on Monday as they worked to prepare for Thursday Night Football against the New England Patriots, and their third road game in 12 days.

While the team had eight players miss Sunday’s workout due to an illness, half of those players were seen at practice today: safety Jordan Poyer, cornerback Siran Neal, linebacker Tyler Matakevich, and running back Nyheim Hines were back on the field, while cornerback Dane Jackson, safety Jaquan Johnson, wide receiver Khalil Shakir, and tight end Quintin Morris were still absent. In addition, it appears that safety Damar Hamlin has now fallen into the sick category and missed today’s practice due to illness.

Good news for the Bills came when the team took the field and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds and defensive end Greg Rousseau were seen working with their groups. Even better news came when both were listed as full participants today. Edmunds has missed two and a half games with a groin injury, while Rousseau hasn’t been on the field since Week 9 when he injured his ankle in Buffalo’s 20-17 loss to the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Getting one (or both) back would be a huge lift for a defense that has struggled to keep starters on the field this season, and is now looking at an undetermined amount of time with their leading pass rusher, Von Miller.

Another promising sight was the return of defensive end A.J. Epenesa to practice. The third-year player injured his ankle on November 20 in the first of the Bills’ back-to-back games at Ford Field and having him back as a full participant just eight days later indicates that maybe the injury wasn’t as severe as some of the others that have plagued the Buffalo roster this season.

Adding to today’s good news is that both quarterback Josh Allen and center Mitch Morse were full participants in today’s practice. This is the first time that Allen has been listed as a full participant since he injured his elbow at the end of the Jets game in Week 9. Morse was added to the ankle-injuries-r-us club after the first of the Ford Field games when the Bills beat the Cleveland Browns in Week 11. Having Morse back to anchor the line and having Allen back throwing at full strength will help Buffalo as they make a run at a divison title.

Not practicing today, along with the five players who fall into the illness category, were Miller and left tackle Dion Dawkins—both of whom left the Detroit game early last week.

Miller injured his knee and is reportedly waiting 7-10 days to, apparently, make a decision on just how bad it is, and if it is something he could possibly play through. Dawkins, on the other hand, fell to the ankle-injury-plague that has swept through One Bills Drive this season. Both will be sorely missed as the Bills attempt to get their first division win on Thursday—a must if they want a shot at regaining the lead for the AFC East down the stretch.