The news was already bad with the news that Ryan Denney suffered a broken foot on the opening kickoff of Friday night's game. It didn't get any better when head coach Dick Jauron provided an update Sunday afternoon.
"Ryan Denney is going to be operated on tomorrow," said Jauron. "We don't know how long that will be, but he's not going to be back real soon. And that's a blow, that's definitely a blow. (He's) a very good football player for us not only on defense but on special teams. Those things are painful for him and for us. A terrific guy too. We'll fix it and hopefully he'll be back as soon as he can."
With Jauron hopeful that Denney can return, it indicates that there's the belief he won't miss the whole 2007 season. Buffalobills.com asked Jauron if the regular season PUP list was a possible designation for Denney, which would allow him to return after week six of the season, but Jauron said such a determination would be premature.
Meanwhile starters Chris Kelsay and Aaron Schobel are already preparing for an increased workload early on knowing that Denney and Anthony Hargrove (suspension) won't be available to rotate in during games to keep everyone fresh.
"That's the name of our game, playing hard, playing through the whistle and getting to the football," said Kelsay. "If you don't have a rotation especially at that position it makes things tough. Aaron and I have had that situation with Ryan in a three-man rotation prior to this coaching staff coming in where you're looking to take somewhere between 70 and 90 snaps a game. I don't care who you are or how good of shape you're in it's tough to play all out every snap if you're playing that many reps."
However, Kelsay and Schobel know they're going to be called upon to play more snaps unless there's a veteran defensive end addition in the near future.
"It's definitely going to be tough on us, but if that's the situation then it's Aaron's and my job to get in the best shape possible and if that means staying after practice and running a little extra and doing what we have to in the weight room to get ready for the season then that's what we have to do."
For the remainder of the preseason the heavy rotation will continue with the likes of Eric Powell, C.J. Ah You and Ryan Neill, but Jauron admits rotation will be an issue in the regular season if it goes unresolved.
"C.J. and Eric have been playing a good deal," Jauron said. "Ryan Neill has been playing a good deal. They'll rotate through and they'll get more snaps now. But it's a problem and we'll keep looking everywhere we can inside our organization and outside too."
Jauron made it clear that he likes what Ah You, Neill and Powell have to offer, but none of them have NFL game experience and putting them out on the field as often as a six-year vet like Denney and a four-year vet like Hargrove can put your defense at risk for error.
"It was a position that we thought was one of the strengths of our team and suddenly we're in a little bit of trouble," Jauron said. "We're counting on some guys that were really going to have to push to make our team. We may be counting on them, which is fine if they play up to the level that we need them to play."
"Physically I know that they can play," said Kelsay of the young ends behind him. "I've seen them play whether it's in the games or in practice situations. There's no concern there whatsoever. It's just a matter of cutting down on the mental errors and missed assignments and missed alignments, technique problems and stuff like that which are correctable. We have the talent and the physical ability to get it done it's just a matter of staying focused throughout training camp and into the grind of the regular season."
And for now it looks like that grind will be affecting Kelsay and Schobel the most as their amount of work on Sundays is going to increase at least through the first month of the season.
"At this point I would say that yeah the odds are that they would get more snaps," said Jauron of Kelsay and Schobel. "How many more is uncertain. We do believe in having fresh guys in there so we've got to rotate. But it's clear as we said earlier that a position of strength now has questions. Maybe the guys we talked about earlier will play themselves right in there so we're real comfortable with the numbers that we like to get in terms of rotation. But right now I'd say the odds are that they get more."