The Buffalo Bills, fresh off their victory over Cincinnati, now sport a 5-5 record and are two games behind in the AFC Wild Card race. Up next the Bills have a game that they desperately need to win, considering the record of the opponent.
Up next for the Bills is a matchup with the 2-8 Jacksonville Jaguars, and it seems like the Bills are trending towards being healthy with two of their biggest players.
With practice wrapped up for the week, five Bills roster notes as we get closer to the game against the Jaguars:
1) Watkins is ready for takeoff
- With three days of practice to his name and the guarded enthusiasm of his head coach, it appears wide receiver Sammy Watkins is ready to play against Jacksonville in some capacity. After a nine-week absence due to his lingering foot injury, Watkins has declared himself as fully healthy and mentally ready to get back on the field. He was only waiting for the “all clear” from the medical staff before getting back on the field for a game. The Bills were careful for Watkins for much of the week in how much they put on his plate in practice, seeing as how it’s his first time practicing since mid-September. Still, Watkins was able to get through the week and a smiling Rex Ryan let slip that he felt “pretty good” about the wide receiver being able to play. Much like the Bills did with Percy Harvin when he first returned a few weeks ago, it might be prudent to limit what type of routes Watkins runs in the game itself. The Bills should tread lightly in his first game back, get him in action (think maybe around 50-percent of snaps or less), and then work on getting him back to full speed for the following week, along with the rest of the season. Casting some doubt on his outlook for Sunday, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said that Watkins was on a pitch count at practice, wasn't going full speed, and that his conditioning simply wasn't there. Still, without Robert Woods available on Sunday, the Bills desperately need someone to boost to the wide receiver group — and even Watkins being available for half-a-game or less would be a welcomed sight.
2) McCoy will play
- The Bills had to do without LeSean McCoy in the second half of the team’s win over Cincinnati, but managed to secure the victory with a pair of field goals in the final 30 minutes. McCoy sustained a thumb injury that required surgery the same night of the game, and the hope was that he’d be able to play against Jacksonville. As it turns out, the Bills will only have been without McCoy for that second half against the Bengals. McCoy participated in all three days of practice this week — granted, with a heavy wrap around his left thumb — but didn’t have any restrictions during the practice time that the media was allowed to watch. McCoy will be of the utmost importance, especially without, at least, a pair of offensive skill players in the lineup on Sunday. Against a fairly poor Jaguars run defense, McCoy is the key to the team’s offense on Sunday.
3) Hamstring claims Gillislee’s availability
- The Buffalo Bills will have McCoy, but they won’t have his main backup in the lineup on Sunday. After injuring his hamstring during practice on Wednesday, the Bills have since shut Mike GIllislee down completely for the rest of the week. Gillislee didn’t participate in practice at all on Thursday or Friday, and the Bills officially listed him as ‘out’ against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Without him, that means both Reggie Bush and Jonathan Williams will get opportunities as the player that spells McCoy when he needs a break. However, I’m anticipating the Bills ride McCoy all game long, with the contributions from both Bush and Williams being minimal. Gillislee is a much bigger loss than most think it is. He’s a more than competent player that can help keep the offense afloat without McCoy on the field. Should anything happen to McCoy, the Bills could be in trouble on Sunday.
4) Harvin remains in question
- The Bills, already down Robert Woods and likely only getting a muted version of Sammy Watkins on Sunday, may have to do without Percy Harvin on the field as well. Harvin is fighting an undisclosed illness and was unable to practice on either Thursday or Friday, which has caused him to be listed as ‘questionable’ by the Bills for the Jaguars game. If he is unable to play, that means the Bills will be leaning quite a bit on Marquise Goodwin, and then some combination of Sammy Watkins, Justin Hunter, Brandon Tate, and Walt Powell. The Jaguars have actually been quite proficient against the pass, which works into the Bills favor for the matchup. They’d prefer to run anyway, so expect the ratio — unless the Bills are trailing in the second half — to be slanted quite a bit to the running game.
5) Henderson’s absence raises questions
- Just a week after Seantrel Henderson made his return to the field for a game and split reps with starting right tackle Jordan Mills, Henderson’s absence from the practice field has been raised a few eyebrows. Henderson missed Thursday and Friday of practice due to non-football related reasons. Jay Skurski of The Buffalo News reported that Henderson had a doctor’s appointment on Thursday in relation to his bout with Crohn’s disease — and that the right tackle might even be facing yet another suspension from the National Football League. Henderson was nowhere to be seen on either day, which puts his ‘questionable’ status for Sunday’s matchup as murky at best. Expect to see Cyrus Kounadjio as the active reserve offensive tackle on Sunday versus Jacksonville.