On the heels of their painful loss to Jacksonville last week, head coach Rex Ryan said he could not think of a time in his coaching career when he was part of a team that needed a bye week more than the Bills. With a roster beset with injuries, the week off for the players has apparently worked wonders. At Monday's practice Buffalo had a host of key players back in their lineup including starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
"Tyrod is back," said Ryan. "We expect him 100-percent for this game, that's huge. We have a couple of other guys we expect to play."
There's no question that the offensive side of the ball was hardest hit with injuries with Taylor, Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin, Seantrel Henderson and Karlos Williams all sidelined by injury prior to the bye. On Monday all but Harvin were participating on some level on the practice field.
Taylor said it's the first time this season his body has truly felt 100 percent healthy. He dealt with an ankle injury prior to his sprained MCL suffered in Week 5. That's why he expects to start Sunday against Miami.
"Yeah I'm 100 percent, fully confident in going out there and playing on my knee," Taylor said following Monday's practice. "I didn't have anything that limited me today in practice and it felt good."
Buffalo's starting quarterback missed a pair of games in Week 6 and 7, both losses for the Bills, due to the knee injury. It looked like he might have a chance to play against Jacksonville in London two weeks ago, but after practicing on his ailing knee that Wednesday he did not practice again that week and was declared out a few days before the game.
"It was something that we talked about just trying to take it day by day two weeks ago and see how it felt decide what the best decision was moving forward," he said.
Taylor said the turning point with his knee came during the bye week when he had a chance to get off his feet and get extra treatments. The quarterback chose to stay in Buffalo during the bye week to complete all of his rehab work under the watchful eye of the team's medical and athletic training staff.
The only decision that hasn't been made is whether he will wear a knee brace in Sunday's game against the Dolphins.
"That's up to the trainers, but that doesn't limit me," he said. "Like I said I don't have any restrictions and just take it day by day and continue to keep getting better and stay focused on the game plan."
Watkins working his way back, Karlos happy to return
Watkins appeared to be the most limited with most of his work on the side apart from the team. The wide receiver is now two weeks removed from an ankle injury suffered on his touchdown catch in the first half of the team's Week 6 loss to Cincinnati. Despite being limited Watkins described himself as "very close" to a return after spending part of the bye week in Buffalo rehabbing.
"Over the break I came back and worked out with the staff and they're doing a good job just getting me in shape," Watkins said. "I think that's the biggest part. With the injury it'll get better and so I've just got to keep working to get back on the field. Hopefully I'll be back."
"I feel really good about him," said Ryan of Watkins' status for Sunday. "He'll probably be limited on Wednesday but we'll see from there."
Rookie RB Karlos Williams returned to practice for the first time since he suffered a concussion in the Week 4 loss to the Giant. He's optimistic he'll be good to play Sunday.
"Just trying to go day by day and make sure I don't have any concussion symptoms," said Williams. "Making sure I'm taking the proper reps and that I'm ready to roll for Sunday. That started with practice today. I went out to practice, ran well, caught the ball well, got thrown in on a couple of plays and got some good reps. That started today and no symptoms so I think I'll be ready to roll for Sunday."
As for Harvin, Ryan didn't say specifically if the veteran receiver would be playing against the Dolphins this weekend, but he did assure that Harvin is committed to the team and continuing his career after reports two weeks ago that he was considering retirement.
"Percy is good, he's in the building. He's in the training room today," said Ryan. "We'll see how it goes. He wants to play and wants to contribute to this team. We'll see how the week progresses to see where he's at."
On defense DT Kyle Williams remains sidelined with a knee injury. Safety Corey Graham also did not practice Monday with a groin injury. Ryan said he expects Graham to be limited Wednesday, but said Graham still has a chance to play Sunday.