The news wasn't unexpected after Fred Jackson left with an apparent head injury late in Sunday's game at Gillette Stadium, but it didn't make head coach Chan Gailey feel any better about delivering the news on Jackson's availability for Thursday night's home game against Miami.
"It looks like Fred will be out this week," said Gailey. "The tests this morning were not as good as we had hoped and he had hoped so he won't play this week."
Gailey confirmed that the diagnosis was a concussion. Jackson was struck in the back of the head with an elbow by Patriots LB Brandon Spikes at the tail end of his catch and run on a 2nd-and-10 play at the Patriots 44 with just over a minute remaining.
Spikes, who had already delivered an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit on Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier in the game, flexed his muscles after seeing Jackson down on the turf. It was something that wasn't well received by his teammates.
"I don't like to see anybody get hurt and then on top of that (Spikes) making fun of him while he's on the ground. That really got me stirred up," said Tashard Choice of the Patriot linebacker's actions, "He'll get his though. When players go down from concussions they're serious. He wasn't moving. It's cool to make a big hit, but it's not cool when somebody is down like that. He's a good player, but you don't do that."
Choice is expected to take on some of the rushing load Thursday night against Miami's sixth-ranked run defense.
The bulk of the load however, now falls to C.J. Spiller, who also spelled Jackson earlier in the season when he missed most of the first three games with a sprained knee.
"When Fred was hurt he was getting lots of opportunities and with Fred out this week he'll get lots of opportunities this week," said Gailey. "He's a dynamic player to say the least so he'll get a lot of chances this week that's for sure."
Spiller rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown in the opener against the Jets after Jackson went down. He followed that up with a 123-yard rushing effort with a pair of touchdowns in a 35-17 win over the Chiefs. He then suffered a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the Week 3 game at Cleveland in the first half.
For Coach Gailey and his staff, not having Jackson will require an adjustment, but nothing that he and his assistants can't handle.
"It does make a difference. You have to make certain adjustments in a short week, but the good thing is we haven't depended on having them both in the game for the majority of the game plan at any one time," Gailey said. "So we've got enough to go into a game without Fred and have enough to be able to keep people off balance."
The last time the Bills faced the Dolphins, Jackson was lost for the season with a fractured fibula leaving Spiller in the featured role in Buffalo's backfield. Spiller rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries (7.6) and 76 yards receiving on nine catches and a touchdown for 167 total yards from scrimmage.