On Wednesday interim head coach Perry Fewell believed that Marcus Stroud's knee injury would improve as the week moved along allowing him to play come Sunday. But the injury suffered in last Sunday's game at Tennessee prevented Stroud from practicing all week and he has been declared out for this weekend's game at Jacksonville.
Fourth on the team in tackles, tied for the team lead in tackles for loss and second in pass breakups, Stroud will be a significant loss. Fewell said on Friday that Stroud did not suffer a setback with his knee injury, it just did not recover in time to allow him to practice thereby removing him as an option on Sunday.
Spencer Johnson is expected to start in Stroud's place.
Making matters worse is fellow starter Kyle Williams is listed as questionable as he was only able to practice on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday. Williams is trying to return from a sprained MCL suffered at Carolina in Week 7.
"It's not fully there yet, but it felt pretty good," said Williams. "I feel encouraged by it. All in all it felt pretty good."
Williams is expected to be a game time decision. If he can't go on Sunday John McCargo would step in and make his first start of the season. If Williams is inactive Buffalo would have just two defensive tackles on the roster, which could prompt a call up from the practice squad. Corey Mace is the only defensive tackle on that eight-man squad.
Two other starters outStarting linebacker Keith Ellison and starting left tackle Demetrius Bell are also out for Sunday's game. Bryan Scott will make his second straight start at outside linebacker in place of Ellison, while rookie Andy Levitre will make his first career start at left tackle.
Replacing Levitre at left guard will be veteran Seth McKinney. Kirk Chambers will start at right tackle.
Short on the corner?The Bills stand a strong chance of being short at cornerback on Sunday as well. Terrence McGee practiced for the first time on Friday, but was limited and is unlikely to play. He's listed as questionable.
"It's kind of frustrating," said McGee who had his knee scoped on Nov. 2. "It's not supposed to be that long of a recovery, but at the same time I don't want to push myself out there on one leg trying to play. If I'm ready, I'll be ready."
With Ashton Youboty also out with a high ankle sprain Buffalo will enter the game Sunday with just three healthy cornerbacks.
Drayton Florence and Reggie Corner will start. In nickel situations Corner is likely to move inside to the slot with rookie Ellis Lankster stepping in at left cornerback.
Another option is using safety Donte Whitner in the slot, which is something the Bills did last season when they were shorthanded at cornerback.