Wednesday's participation in practice was far from a guarantee that Donald Jones or Aaron Williams would be back in red, white and blue this Sunday when the Bills host the Jets. The fact that both were back working with their teammates instead of on the side with athletic trainers was an encouraging sign that their return will be sooner rather than later.
Jones and Williams both participated in practice for the first time since sustaining ankle and chest/shoulder injuries respectively. Jones was injured in Week 5 against the Eagles with Williams hurt in Week 3 against the Patriots. At this point Jones is closer to returning that the rookie cornerback.
"Everything was good," said Jones following Wednesday's practice. "I'm definitely sore now after practice, but there's no shooting pain or anything like that. Hopefully I'll be okay for Sunday."
What encouraged Jones the most was the fact that his ankle did not give him discomfort until the very end of practice.
"I think I did well for my first day back," said Jones. "I thought I'd feel it a lot more than I did in terms of pain. So it actually felt good. We'll see how it is by the end of the week and make a decision on Sunday."
For Williams this week was just about getting his wind back.
"I wish I was out there a little more," he said. "I only did individual position drills. From what the trainers said I did a lot better than they expected. I went out there to see what I could do and probably do more (Thursday). Right now I'm trying to get my conditioning back."
Williams has not yet been cleared for contact so he won't make his return this week against the Jets. Next week he'll see how much he can handle the responsibilities of his position like jamming receivers and jockeying for position when shadowing receivers on routes.
"Next week we'll worry more about contact and what I can do hitting-wise," he said. "That's the main issue how much contact I can handle."
Hairston almost back as wellOffensive tackle Chris Hairston also returned to the practice setting Wednesday from an ankle injury suffered against the Giants in Week 6. Head coach Chan Gailey believes the rookie lineman, like Jones, has a chance to be ready for Sunday's game.
"Chris Hairston has got a chance," Gailey said. "I don't know if he'll be 100 percent, but he's got a chance."
All three players were listed as limited in practice Wednesday.