After his third straight day of practice, albeit on a limited basis, Bills safety Donte Whitner is hopeful that he will be given the green light for Buffalo's Monday night matchup with his hometown Cleveland Browns.
"I'm feeling good," said Whitner. "I've had three or four days of practice this week and we'll see how it goes. I don't know what coach said, but I expect to play. I want to play. It's up to them. It depends on how I progress in the next two days and we'll go from there."
Bills head coach Dick Jauron listed Whitner as questionable for the game.
"He's sore," said Jauron. "I think he's going to be sore, but he practiced and he practiced pretty well."
Whitner is medically cleared to play as it appears the safety's ability will largely be about maintaining the structural integrity of his shoulder as well as pain management, but range of motion does not appear to be a problem just two weeks removed from the injury.
"It's not a big issue with the range of motion. But it was a severe injury so you have to take it one step at a time," said Whitner. "I'm going in to get treatment now and actually I've been getting it four or five times a day to try to progress and speed up my recovery. It's up to the trainers and coach Jauron as to whether I play or not. I want to play and I'm feeling good so we'll see."
Sitting on his couch watching last week's game in New England left Whitner with the impression that his team was lacking emotion.
"Last week when I talked to (fellow defensive co-captain Chris) Kelsay and a majority of the guys and it looked like everybody was straining and stressing and trying to make plays and compensate for what they think is missing instead of locking in and focusing on their individual job and having fun doing it," Whitner said. "During the week is when we put our work in. The things we do in practice will transfer over to the football field on game day. So there's no need to stress and do all those things."
Whitner, however, is the emotional leader of the defense and his presence in the lineup would undoubtedly provide the entire team with the boost they appear to need mired in a three game losing skid. But the safety believes his team will be charged up whether he plays or not.
"I believe if I play it will be an emotional lift and if I don't play I'll do the things I need to do to get guys to play with some emotion," he said. "Everybody is different and different guys feed off energy differently. Some guys are very emotional and some guys are very quiet. The thing I try to do when I'm on the football field is try to keep everybody loose and play with that emotion. I'm not the biggest guy out there, but when I play, I play full speed and full tilt and people recognize that and some guys feed off of the offense, feed off the defense and on special teams. So I'm just looking forward to getting back out there with my teammates and hopefully I am a go on Monday night."
A football junkie, Whitner desperately wants to play. Only adding to that desire to suit up will be the presence of 55 friends and family members scheduled to attend the game against his hometown team.
"(I'm) hopeful," he said. "I would say hopeful at the most. Any time there's a football game I feel like if it's not broken I want to be out there especially if I can run and jump and all those things. But it's up to the training staff and the doctors because you definitely don't want to put a guy out there who is going to go out there and hurt himself even more than what I'm hurt. So we'll see. It's up to those guys whether I play or not, and right now it is looking questionable, but I'm looking forward to getting out there."
Hardy, Royal questionable
With Josh Reed doubtful for Monday night, the Bills receiving corps could be stretched even thinner with receiver James Hardy and Robert Royal questionable for Monday night.
Hardy is dealing with a strained hip flexor suffered in last week's game against New England. The rookie wideout did not practice on Wednesday, but practiced Thursday and Friday on a limited basis.
Royal only missed Thursday's practice as he was back practicing on Friday in a limited fashion as well.
If Hardy cannot go Monday night, Buffalo will be down to four healthy receivers in Lee Evans, Roscoe Parrish, Justin Jenkins and Steve Johnson.
Tight ends Derek Schouman and rookie Derek Fine would have to fill the void if Royal is unable to play.
Meanwhile right guard Brad Butler, who has missed each of the last three games with a sprained MCL, is expected to start after practicing fully all week. He's listed as probable.
Aaron Schobel will miss his fifth straight game with a foot injury.