Buffalo's rendition of musical chairs on their offensive line was destined to continue this week with Eric Wood and Seth McKinney becoming the 13th and 14th players to go on injured reserve this week with season ending injuries. But not many expected that a player signed on Tuesday could be starting on Sunday against Miami.
That appears to be a distinct possibility as recent signee Kendall Simmons has a chance to start at right guard to fill the void left by Wood.
"I liked the way he rolled off the ball in 9-on-7," said interim head coach Perry Fewell. "It's easy to kind of get excited about a guy the first day. We'll look at him again (Thursday)."
For now Fewell is withholding judgment on who will man the right guard position, but Simmons was given a healthy amount of reps at right guard in practice Wednesday. If all goes well as the week unfolds he could be making his first start since Sept. 29, 2008.
"It's been new to me and a new group of guys I'm with," Simmons told Buffalobills.com after practice Wednesday. "Coaches are helping me make my transition so I'm enjoying myself. I really am."
Even though Simmons is a seven-year veteran, he is still learning the different terminology that the Bills use in their offensive scheme and in their protections.
"There is a lot of communication going on between the centers and the other guys trying to help him out," said Fewell. "We just have to evaluate it and see, but I like the way he rolled off the ball in 9-on-7."
All indications from Simmons' new teammates were that he fared well in the reps that he did receive during the team portions of practice.
"Kendall getting in there and getting some snaps (Wednesday), he looked really good out there and he's already picked it up and is moving along and doing fine," said starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
"He looked pretty good and got some good reps in there," said Kirk Chambers, who lined up next to Simmons at right tackle. "He was picking things up quick."
"It's kind of been an easy transition because the last couple of days all I've been doing is changing plays to the plays I'm used to running and writing them down and saying, 'Okay this used to be this,'" said Simmons. "And it's helped me out a lot and the coaches have done a good job. And Geoff (Hangartner) and Chambers have done a good job of communicating with me, and helping me saying, 'Okay this is how we do this, go here and do that.' So (practice) to me wasn't hard at all."
If Simmons does progress enough where the offensive staff feels comfortable plugging him in for the start at right guard, Buffalo's offensive line figures to line up from left to right on Sunday with Jonathan Scott at left tackle, Andy Levitre at left guard, Geoff Hangartner at center, Simmons at right guard and Kirk Chambers at right tackle.
The only other options at right guard are Christian Gaddis, who was promoted to the 53-man roster from the practice squad on Wednesday, and Chambers, who finished last week's game at right guard after Wood was injury out of necessity. He started last week's game at right tackle, and on Wednesday Chambers saw most of his work at tackle as well.
Regardless of what the lineup is it will again be different from the week before. The linemen just shrug their shoulders when asked about what will be the seventh different lineup for the quintet up front in 11 games.
"You work with whoever is next to you and wherever you're put," said Chambers. "We've got guys in positions that know what they're doing. You just make it work."
"I think we all communicate well, it's just the way of communicating from one guy to the next," said Scott. "Whether it's what kind of front it is or something else. We all know what we're doing it's just a matter of being on the same page."
Ironically, Buffalo is likely to have the same offensive tackle tandem that they went with back in Week 4 the first time they played the Dolphins in Miami. Demetrius Bell was hurt at that time as well with a groin injury prompting Scott to move from right tackle to left tackle, which in turn put Kirk Chambers on the right flank.
Fewell believes Bell is close to returning after sustaining a knee injury in Week 8, but it appears that getting him back this week might be pushing it. Bell did not practice on Wednesday.
So with few options again this week the Bills will likely have to tap into Simmons' seven years of NFL experience on Sunday and hope it keeps Buffalo's line together. But after seeing the way the group up front battled a physical team in the Jaguars last week, starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick goes into Sunday's game confident they'll be giving their best again. "We've got some new guys in new positions on the line," said Fitzpatrick. "But those guys have fought all year. Whoever it is in the lineup we know is going to play hard for us."