The Bills continue to adhere to the mantra of 'Next man up,' but Buffalo's roster is still dwindling when it comes to players that can suit up and play on Sunday. On Thursday night the team lost two key players to their offense in top wideout Stevie Johnson and starting quarterback EJ Manuel.
"EJ has a sprained knee so we'll look at that and then obviously Stevie his back," said head coach Doug Marrone.
Manuel was injured on a scramble to the near sideline in the red zone when the Bills were trying to break a 17-17 tie midway through the third quarter. He was knocked out of bounds with a submarine tackle by Tashaun Gipson.
His knee whipped back and to the side after the hit and Manuel immediately clutched his right knee. Fortunately it's not the same knee he injured in Buffalo's preseason game that kept him out for a couple of weeks.
Johnson appeared to wrench his lower right back when he turned to cut on a route in the first half. He didn't return. A timetable has not been given on either player's injury.
For the players that are still healthy enough to play they can only shake their head at the number of casualties the team has endured through just five games.
"Yeah it's tough and it's nothing we've been able to find a common denominator on," said Eric Wood. "Shoot, you tell me what it is and we'd give anything to find out. Our injury situation isn't great, but with 10 days rest hopefully we can get some guys back."
T.J. Graham was a bit more diplomatic.
"We've got to figure it out," said Graham of the rash of injuries. "We're pretty tough guys, but injuries you can't really help when they happen. You just have to get healthy and get back in there."
No timetable was provided for either Johnson or Manuel. Marrone said he's expecting his starting quarterback will undergo an MRI Friday morning to get a better diagnosis of the injury.
Johnson was poised to have a big game against Cleveland as he factored heavily into the game plan.
"We had a lot of things in for Stevie in this game that we wanted to go to, especially putting him in the slot," said Marrone. "I thought that he started off well. I felt like he tried to push through it, which I appreciate from him. We were going to get him some plays. He fought down the field to get the pass interference call. We had some shots to him and we really worked on it. So I think when you work on something with a player during the week and you're taking limited reps on a short week those things come into play ,but I'm not going to stand up here and make excuses."
And neither are his players no matter who they might lose in the future.
"It's always frustrating, but the number one thing we have to be able to do is shake that off," said Fred Jackson of the injuries. "I've said it before, injuries are going to happen. We've had a lot of key players that got injured, but it's next man up and we've got to rally around them and continue to push forward."