The Buffalo Bills resumed practice on Thursday and compared to a normal Thursday, there was quite a bit of movement concerning the roster and how it may shape up for this weekend’s game in Philadelphia.
Five notes from Thursday’s session:
1) Gilmore status looks murky
- For the second straight day, the Bills were without starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore. He injured the shoulder against the Houston Texans and was unable to return, and now the Bills are at risk of going into the Philadelphia game without their top cornerback. That would shift Ronald Darby in the top role — which is nothing more than ceremonious considering how the Bills utilize their boundary corners — and it would also mean Leodis McKelvin would make his first start at cornerback since 2014. Luckily for the Bills, the Eagles don’t offer much from their outside receivers. The big worry will be Jordan Matthews in the slot, but, other than him, the Eagles are limited from an offensive perspective.
2) Aaron Williams cleared, but, mulling retirement?
- After a lengthy absence from the field, Aaron Williams was cleared for practice and took part on Thursday for the first time since being placed on short-term IR, which gives the Bills 21 days to add him to the active roster if they so choose. If he is not added to the active roster in that span, he will be placed on season-ending IR. Williams has been dealing with a neck injury since the Bills lost to the New England Patriots in Week Three of the season. However, in terms of this weekend, Williams playing just won’t happen. Rex Ryan told reporters that the safety won’t be able to play this week, and probably won’t be able to play next week, either. However, there may be concerns from the bigger picture:
Aaron Williams also left the possibility of retirement on the table. He said the first hit he takes is when he'll know.
— Matthew Fairburn (@MatthewFairburn) December 10, 2015
Aaron Williams also revealed that he underwent a "procedure" on his neck about a month ago. He was cautioned he might not play again.
— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) December 10, 2015
3) Changes along the offensive line?
- The Bills certainly don’t have former 1961 AFL All-Star offensive tackle Ken Rice at their disposal, but, it appears the Bills may be making a change at right tackle. Just two days after declaring that Seantrel Henderson would maintain his hold on the right tackle job, Jordan Mills took the first-team reps during Thursday’s practice while both players were participating in the session. Henderson sat out of the Texans contest with an illness which allowed Mills to start, and even though Henderson took the first-team snaps at right tackle on Wednesday, things changed for one day. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Henderson playing with the second-team was related to his illness, but, the injury report read that the tackle was a full participant. In a switch from Wednesday, rookie John Miller took first-team reps for the first time since he suffered a high ankle sprain. Rex Ryan said Miller is ahead of schedule, and they’ll see how the injury reacts for the rest of the week.
4) No Nigel, again
- The linebacker group has taken quite a few lumps in the past two weeks. Nigel Bradham has a high ankle sprain and had to miss the Bills game against Houston, and while there was some thought that he could try to push through to be ready for this weekend, that hope has quickly faded. Bradham was spotted on the exercise bike way away from the practice field, and has now missed two consecutive days. Like Gilmore, Bradham is considered doubtful to play against Philadelphia. Last week’s starter in place of Bradham, rookie Tony Steward has now been placed on Injured Reserve, which means Manny Lawson will likely take all the reps beside Preston Brown. The Bills promoted A.J. Tarpley from the practice squad with the open roster spot, which means he and Kevin Reddick will be the candidates to be on the field in base defense on Sunday. The nod likely goes to Reddick.
5) O’Leary set to be active for Bills
- Due to some other teams sniffing around the Bills practice squad, Buffalo made the move to promote tight end and former sixth-round pick Nick O’Leary to the active roster. It was a bit of a surprising move, considering that O’Leary replaced the second-most used tight end on the roster, Matthew Mulligan. Not only has O’Leary been promoted, but Rex Ryan guaranteed that the rookie would be active for his first career game on Sunday in Philadelphia. Despite his athletic limitations, Mulligan served a purpose on the roster as the best blocking option at tight end on a run-heavy offense. With Chris Gragg being a poor blocker, the Bills will need O’Leary to fill Mulligan’s role immediately.
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