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Bills vs Ravens: Jordan Poyer, Ed Oliver, Mitch Morse return to practice

Dane Jackson, Jordan Poyer, Ed Oliver, and Mitch Morse participated in Wednesday’s practice

NFL: Buffalo Bills Minicamp Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills finally got some good news as they entered practice on Wednesday to prepare for their Sunday matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. For the past two weeks, the Bills have been adding names to their injury report at near-record speed and, unfortunately, many of those names have been staying there. But on Wednesday, some key players were finally back in action—even if only limited—for practice.

While linebacker Von Miller and guard Rodger Saffold rested (and it’s likely that wide receiver Stefon Diggs will get a vet rest day later this week—he usually does),defensive tackle Ed Oliver and center Mitch Morse were back on the field in a limited capacity, as was tight end Dawson Knox. The Bills’ newest offensive lineman, Jonathan Murray, was also at practice.

However, the news that Bills fans have been waiting for was the most notable returns to action: cornerback Dane Jackson and safety Jordan Poyer.

Jackson injured his neck in Buffalo’s Week 2 win over the Tennessee Titans when he collided with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds after making a tackle on wide receiver Robert Woods. Edmunds is big, and the hit was bigger, as Jackson’s neck was snapped backwards and he rolled to the ground unable to get up. Ultimately, the ambulance had to be brought to the field to take the cornerback—who was put in a collar and on a backboard—to the hospital for further tests.

The fact that Jackson is back at practice is a great sign. The Bills are short on cornerbacks with Tre’Davious White still on the PUP list as he recovers from last season’s ACL injury and rookie Christian Benford underwent surgery for a broken hand this week. While Buffalo signed free-agent cornerback Xavier Rhodes to their practice squad yesterday, having Jackson on the road to recovery will bring a much-needed boost to a depleted defense.

In another boost, Poyer was also back at practice on Wednesday. Poyer inured his foot in Week 2 and, along with fellow safety Micah Hyde (neck), wasn’t able to suit up for the Week 3 game against the Miami Dolphins.

While Hyde will undergo surgery for a herniated disc and has been put on IR, Poyer is slated to return much sooner, and last week head coach Sean McDermott said that the All-Pro is day-to-day.

To have Poyer back will be a huge lift—both in experience and morale—for the Bills, who can then start looking at the timeline for Jackson and White to return so that Buffalo can have three-fourths of its league-leading pass defense back together.

On the downside for the Bills—because they still have a laundry list of injuries to sort through—they still had several players who did not practice on Wednesday.

Benford, offensive lineman Ryan Bates (concussion protocol), wide receiver Jake Kumerow (high ankle), and defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (calf) were all inactive today. Joining them was left tackle Dion Dawkins who was out due to a non-COVID illness.

While it’s likely that Dawkins will recover in time, and it’s possible for Bates to move through concussion protocol before Sunday, it would make sense to assume that Kumerow probably won’t play. Wide receiver Gabe Davis suffered an ankle injury in practice before the Titans game, and the Bills chose to be cautious with his recovery. Davis sat out of the Week 2 game with Tennessee but was active against Miami, so resting Kumerow to be sure his ankle is sound would make sense.

McDermott said on Monday that he expected Benford to be out “a couple of weeks,” and today he said that he didn’t see Phillips, who is trending toward week-to-week with the injury he sustained before the Tennessee Titans game, being ready to go by Sunday.

Still, with Jackson and Poyer being back at practice, and Oliver and Morse getting more work in, things might be looking up for the Buffalo Bills.