The best news the defense could have gotten happened on Tuesday as Donte Whitner returned to practice and participated fully.
"The ankle feels good," said Whitner after practice. "There's a little bruise on there. It's just a minor injury that you play through. You just want to get healthy at this time so when the season rolls around it's not holding you back from playing your best."
The strong safety's ankle doesn't appear to be bothering him much as he leaped high into the air to bat down a pass from Trent Edwards during 11-on-11 work in the red zone.
"I wanted to intercept it, but it was so close to me that it happened fast," said Whitner. "Just making plays and I felt like we had a good defensive practice."
Whitner admits there is still some discomfort, but believes he can play through it. As for his status for Thursday night the Bills strong safety wants to see how his ankle responds to the day's work, but Dick Jauron believes Whitner will suit up for the Steelers game.
"Right now I do," said Jauron Tuesday afternoon. "It can change and we haven't really finalized any playing time ideas. We'll have to see how his leg tolerated practice, but I would think so."
Unfortunately the list of players that won't be playing in the game Thursday is longer than it was prior to the preseason opener against the Redskins. Although Jauron stopped short of naming names, he did admit they will be more shorthanded than they were last week.
Two players not expected to play are offensive tackles Matt Murphy and Patrick Estes after both suffered injuries Monday night in practice. Murphy still does not have an official diagnosis for his shoulder injury.
"He's getting some more evaluation today and we'll know a lot more about that," said Jauron. "I talked to Matt earlier. He certainly felt a lot better than he did last night. As you could all see he was in a lot of pain, which concerned everyone involved with it. He felt significantly better about the whole thing so we'll see."
As for Estes, he did make it out to the practice field Tuesday, but did not participate. Jauron is hopeful at best about Estes playing Thursday in Toronto.
"We'll try to remain optimistic and see, but I don't know," said Jauron. "He's very sore."
If neither plays on Thursday night Brad Butler will step in as the team's fourth tackle and presumably see time with the second or third unit at right tackle opposite Demetrius Bell.
Joining Estes as a spectator Tuesday were Marcus Buggs (knee), Blake Costanzo (head), Tim Massaquoi (groin), Scott Mayle (hamstring), Roscoe Parrish (sore knee) and Josh Reed (lower back).
Returning to action was Terrence McGee as he participated fully in practice coming off an ankle injury that kept him out of the first preseason game.
Offensive coordinator Turk Schonert had his offense installing more of the team's spread package as they went four wides a bit more Tuesday.
Trent Edwards found James Hardy on an early 7-on-7 play for first down yardage. That was followed up by a couple of nice receptions by Lee Evans including a touchdown catch that drew cheers from the crowd.
Steve Johnson made a strong effort to pull in a pass from Losman with his fingertips that drew a reaction from the fans on the far sideline.
Fred Jackson made a nice falling grab along the far sideline. And during 11-on-11 red zone work Robert Royal had a pair of touchdown grabs from Edwards, though on the second it appeared that Ko Simpson could have delivered a big hit that likely would've led to an incompletion.
Jason Jones had a touchdown during red zone work on a quick slant from Gibran Hamdan. Hamdan also had a nice toss to Johnson for a touchdown, which got Hamdan so excited he yelled, "Boo yah!!"
Defensively, there were some nice plays as well.
Jon Corto tipped a J.P. Losman pass as he came on a blitz to force an incompletion.
Reggie Corner broke up a pass intended for Hardy from Edwards. He later broke up a pass intended for Evans that likely would have gone for a score.
Jabari Greer made the defensive play of the day when he intercepted a pass that was first tipped by Lee Evans and took it the other way for what would've been a touchdown.
Special teams update
A few times during camp and once in the preseason opener with the Bills in field goal block formation, John Wendling has put his tremendous leaping ability to use.
Leading up to the draft the Wyoming product was known by most for his YouTube video that showed him leaping over a 66-inch high bar from a standing position.
Special teams coordinator Bobby April has allowed Wendling to try leaping over the entire field goal formation including the opposing line to see if he's capable of blocking a field goal attempt.
Whether or not it's realistic to time that perfectly, since kicks are up in the air so quick off the snap, we're not sure, but Wendling has cleared players lined up on both sides of the line of scrimmage and landed in the offensive backfield.
At the very least it's entertaining to watch.