The tight end position saw its numbers cut in half during the course of the Bills preseason victory over the Colts last Thursday when Derek Schouman went down with a serious knee injury. With Shawn Nelson scratched from Thursday night's lineup with an injury as well, and only Jonathan Stupar and Michael Matthews left on the roster, Buffalo intends to add at the tight end position soon.
"Yeah, we're checking out everything," said head coach Chan Gailey. "Buddy [Nix] is looking for everybody that's out there and available, and we're going to try to make a good decision about who to come in here and be a part of this thing."
Nelson, who did not practice Saturday due to what Gailey described as a pulled muscle, gave a statement to the media after practice regarding his league-imposed four game suspension for violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
"On behalf of my team, my family, my church family and the great city of Buffalo and my fans I want to say I apologize," said Nelson. "It's not anything bad, nothing illegal that happened. The rumors that I was dealing with some type of thing that (I) was not involved in. I'm not that guy. I'm a guy with character, who works hard. Unfortunately I'm suspended for the first four games of the season. I'll be back on October 4th. I'm excited about getting back with my team, working out with my team."
Nelson said he'd spend his month away from the team training down in Orlando with a professional trainer. He intends to speak with coach Gailey about his playing time when he returns from the suspension.
"I always hate it when that kind of situation happens," said Gailey. "You hate it for your football team, you hate it for the individual involved. That's part of our process today. You have to go by the rules, and you pay for it when you don't."
Gailey also said Schouman will be out anywhere from three to six weeks with his knee injury. Three weeks from Thursday's game would be the Thursday before the opener.
"The guy can't get a break. He just can't stay on the field. He's not getting enough reps," Gailey said. "He's got a lot of making up to do when he gets back."
For the tight ends left to carry the load, there is going to be a lot more work ahead in practice. Jonathan Stupar, who sat atop the depth chart at the position before the latest injuries, is confident that the staff will not overwork him and Michael Matthews.
"Injuries are part of the game and Shawn is dealing with his situation and it's tough for our team right now," said Stupar. "We only have two tight ends, but the coaches know what they're doing. I'm sure they've got a lot of packages where they have more wide receivers than tight ends sometimes. They'll figure it out where we'll be alright. It's definitely something that's clicking in now like, hey we have to rely on Mike (Matthews) in the beginning of the season in addition to me with Derek and Shawn's situation."
Torbor to miss a few weeksThe news was no better for LB Reggie Torbor. He left Thursday night's preseason game against the Colts prior to the rest of the starters with an undisclosed injury.
"Torbor's out for a while," Gailey said. "I don't know what the prognosis is exactly. They're doing more tests today. But I know he's out for three weeks, probably."
Torbor has been the starting weak side linebacker in the team's base defense, with Aaron Maybin replacing him in nickel packages. In practice Saturday Chris Ellis stepped in for Torbor on run downs.
QB UpdateIn the first practice following the preseason win over Indianapolis Ryan Fitzpatrick was the second quarterback in the rotation after Trent Edwards during the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 team segments. Brian Brohm followed Fitzpatrick. The two signal callers behind Edwards got an equal number of reps in the team segments.
"We'll continue to rotate those guys through and evaluate that on a practice by practice, week by week situation," said Gailey.
After having an opportunity to watch the game tape from Thursday night, Gailey was again asked to assess Brohm's performance.
"Yeah, he did a good job," Gailey said. "He did nothing that would make you think that he couldn't do the job down the line. I was impressed with how he handled himself in the ball game. He made some good decisions and some good throws."
HighlightsIn the team segments of practice the players were only going about three-quarter speed coming off the preseason game Thursday night. Still there were some nice plays turned in during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11. There was even a deep touchdown pass from Trent Edwards to Lee Evans for 50-plus yards during run game work on a play fake.
Chad Jackson, however, had the best day of the players on offense. He caught a nice ball down the seam as he reached up over his head in stride to grab a pass from Trent Edwards for a 20-yard pickup.
Seven plays later Ryan Fitzpatrick hit him on a deep post for a 'would be' 70-yard touchdown play in 7-on-7.
Edwards hit Jackson once more in the deep middle of the field for a 30-yard gain.
Steve Johnson made a strong hands catch along the near sideline where he was able to maintain possession despite the defensive back's efforts to wrestle the ball loose on the play.
Roscoe Parrish also worked the deep middle of the field a couple of plays later in 7-on-7 making a catch in traffic.
Defensively, there was some good pressure and some plays made on the ball. Drayton Florence got it started on the second play in 7-on-7 nearly intercepting a pass to the flat. He had another great chance for an interception while covering in the slot, but after keeping it alive with a couple of fingertip taps on the ball, it finally fell to the ground.
Reggie Corner had a couple of pass breakups on the day. The first in 7-on-7 on a pass intended for Roscoe Parrish, with Corner sliding underneath the route to make the play. Later in the two-minute drill Corner had an interception for a touchdown, but couldn't hang onto it.
Donte Whitner playing in centerfield got to the sideline over the top of intended receiver Lee Evans to make an interception in 7-on-7.
Ellis Lankster had a forced fumble after a short reception by Naaman Roosevelt. Reggie Corner recovered the loose ball.
Lydell Sargeant had a pass breakup on a throw intended for Jonathan Stupar.
Chris Kelsay had a quarterback pressure flushing Edwards from the pocket in 11-on-11.
During the two-minute drill segment, Aaron Maybin had a pair of quarterback pressures to force incompletions. The second was a tandem effort with Maybin and Chris Ellis both getting into the offensive backfield.
Extended special teamsAfter the team's head coach stated they had a lot of work to do on their special teams coverage following a less than perfect performance Thursday, coordinator Bruce DeHaven was given extra time to do so in practice Saturday. The special teams segments in practice appeared to be extended as the coaching staff drilled the players on blocking techniques and worked the field goal, punt and kick coverage units.
In and outAlso new to the non-participation list at practice was Jairus Byrd, who was absent, FS Cary Harris, LB Donovan Woods and Kyle Williams. Gailey said that Williams' injury was minor and that he would be back soon. Torell Troup ran with the starting unit at nose tackle in Williams' absence.
George Wilson continues to work at the starting free safety spot, as he did in the preseason game, due to the absence of Jairus Byrd.
Gailey also confirmed that fourth-round pick Marcus Easley had surgery on his injured leg, though no prognosis was given on a possible return.
Marshawn Lynch and David Nelson were hard at work on the side with the team's athletic training staff doing various movement drills. Both are coming off of ankle injuries. Gailey had said earlier in the week it was their hope to have Nelson back for the upcoming week of practice.
James Hardy's undisclosed injury is already past the 7-10 day window initially forecast by Gailey. He sustained the injury in a Tuesday practice last week. Hardy did not practice Saturday, but the Bills head coach is hopeful he'll be well enough to practice and play in the team's third preseason game on Aug. 28.
"Yeah, they all are making progress, to be honest with you," Gailey said. "[WR James] Hardy's making progress. We hope to have a couple of those back this week."
ScheduleThe Bills have their final two-a-day at training camp Sunday. The first practice is scheduled for 9:45 and is closed to the public. The last night practice of camp takes place at 7:15 pm.