The Bills were hopeful that Jason Peters would report to training camp on time, but that didn't happen at the stroke of midnight Friday, and eight and a half hours later the Pro Bowl left tackle also wasn't on the practice field.
"We'd love to have him here, but from my perspective I deal with the players that are here only and I wish he was one of them, but he's not," said head coach Dick Jauron.
Bills COO Russ Brandon was pretty straightforward Thursday in addressing the issue concerning his best offensive lineman. Brandon said he expected Peters to honor the contract he signed with the club two years ago and report to camp. And now that he hasn't the Bills are ready to prepare for the 2008 campaign without him.
"If he's not here we'll move on," said Brandon.
The situation is a bit trickier for Peters' teammates. Left guard Derrick Dockery, who plays alongside Peters, believes things will get ironed out eventually. That's why he doesn't believe the players should be affected by it.
"If you let it become a distraction, it will be," said Dockery. "It doesn't really concern me. You have to have faith and trust in the people you play with whether they're here or not here. I haven't talked to Jason in a while, but if he's here, he's here. If he's not, he's not. We'll just have to move forward."
Brandon appeared to express a willingness to discuss a new contract with Peters provided he reported to camp and was practicing with the rest of his teammates.
"I think we have a proven track record of trying to get guys done and extending guys out," said Brandon. "There's a long line of guys that we've done it with, but it's very difficult to have those conversations when the individual is not participating in your work."
"There's a business side to it, but we were expecting him to be here," said teammate Chris Kelsay. "We've got games and plans and we're very much hoping he's a part of that, but it's a decision he's got to make."
If the situation drags on however, Jauron and his offensive staff will have to discuss what their best offensive line is without Peters in the fold. Kirk Chambers got the first team reps at left tackle in practice Friday, but Langston Walker could be a long term solution down the road.
"It's a possibility. I would like to avoid it. The longer the situation goes we may give him some reps there. I'd love to see him be able to stay at right. He's certainly good enough to play left, but he played such a solid year for us a year ago that you'd hate to move the guy again. We'll just monitor it as we go."