Buffalo's secondary has been playing shorthanded since the regular season began. A week from Sunday they might be the healthiest they've been all season if a few returning injured players put together a strong week of practice.
Though the news of EJ Manuel's knee injury was deflating, the Bills defensive backfield is expected to get a big boost from players coming off the injury list this coming week. Head coach Doug Marrone provided the details.
"This week we get a couple of guys back on the (practice) field," said Marrone. "Jairus Byrd will be back. He was ready to go Thursday night. (Ron) Brooks comes back, (Stephon) Gilmore comes back."
Byrd and Gilmore have yet to play this season with foot and wrist injuries keeping them sidelined the first five games. Brooks never made it through the season opener breaking his foot, but will re-enter the practice setting next week.
Marrone would not go so far as to say that Gilmore will be in the starting lineup, but he did say that the Bills top cornerback has a chance to play Oct. 13th against the Bengals.
"I think we're going to take a good look this week. I know that he wants to play," Marrone said. "That's the first step. At least from the player's standpoint he wants to get out there and play. We'll have to make a decision whether we want to put him out there or not."
Gilmore's return would be valuable knowing Cincinnati has one of the league's most dynamic receivers in A.J. Green.
Having played the Thursday night game, Buffalo has the luxury of getting an extra practice in on Monday after giving the players Saturday and Sunday off. That will provide Gilmore and the other returning defensive backs with an additional day to get back into the speed and flow of practice.
Buffalo's head coach was more confident in Byrd's availability next Sunday, though he wouldn't completely commit to him starting.
"We'll put him out there work him out and go," said Marrone. "We'll work him into those packages and work him into the starting lineup. Starting lineups for me are always difficult, because of what the packages are. But, yeah, we're looking forward to getting him in the starting lineup."
Brooks might still not be ready to play even if he practices next week. He was only doing straight line running with athletic trainers last week and appears to be the biggest long shot to re-enter the lineup.