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Bills vs. Texans, NFL Week 4: Cyril Richardson may start for Buffalo

If left guard Chris Williams (back) can't play for the Bills in Week 4, rookie Cyril Richardson will be making his NFL debut against J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills are coming off of their worst offensive line performance in the 2014 season from their 22-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, and things are only looking more difficult with J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans on the docket for Week 4.

Things look especially iffy at guard, where starters Chris Williams and Erik Pears have struggled mightily through the first three games of the season. Williams left Sunday's loss to the Chargers early with the same back ailment that has plagued him since early in training camp. Kraig Urbik took his place at left guard for 55 snaps in that contest, and did not provide a boost to the level of play.

Doug Marrone and the Bills won't make a final ruling on Williams' availability until they've determined whether or not he can practice Wednesday through Friday, but Marrone was very clear about their Plan B in a press conference on Monday: if Williams can't start, it will be rookie Cyril Richardson, not Urbik, starting at left guard.

Richardson, a fifth-round pick out of Baylor, has been inactive for the Bills' three games this season thanks to the presence of Urbik, who offers more game day utility as a reserve due to his ability to play center. But Richardson saw extensive playing time with the first-team offense throughout the preseason when Williams was dinged up and Marrone was experimenting with different line combinations, and the head coach has already referred to Richardson as a "future starter" in Buffalo.

If Richardson can play, Watt and the Texans will, of course, prove to be a tough first test. But there's little doubt that if he does get the nod, he'll have an opportunity to stick in the lineup for a Bills offensive line that should be playing better than it currently is.