The Buffalo Bills are in need of three straight wins and a lot of help to end the 15-year playoff drought, and their preparation for the homestretch started on Wednesday. They’ll be up against the NFC East division leading Washington Redskins, who cruelly have the same record as the Bills this seasons (6-7).
Some notes from the first practice of the week:
1) Gilmore done for the year
- On Monday, head coach Rex Ryan didn’t rule out the possibility that Stephon Gilmore’s season could be over. That possibility was confirmed on Wednesday, as the team announced the moment practice started that Gilmore had been placed on season-ending Injured Reserve. The starting cornerback injured his shoulder against the Houston Texans in Week 13, and according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, suffered a torn labrum. The report also said that Gilmore had surgery on Tuesday, which sped up the process of putting him on I-R. In his place the Bills will once again turn to veteran cornerback Leodis McKelvin, who despite an interception against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, was picked on by Sam Bradford for quite a bit of the game. That moves rookie Ronald Darby into the role of the most trusted cornerback on the team.
2) Henderson reportedly has Crohn’s disease
- Seantrel Henderson has been sidelined the last two weeks due to a mystery illness, and now we know what he’s dealing with. According to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, Henderson has Crohn’s disease and has lost around 20 pounds due to the illness, with symptoms that may include diarrhea, fever and fatigue, abdominal pain and cramping, reduced appetite, weight loss, and more. There is a chance that the Bills, who have started Jordan Mills in his place each of the last two weeks, will have to go on the rest of the season without Henderson in the lineup. Mills, and not former second-round selection Cyrus Kouandjio, will likely continue to get the work at right tackle without Henderson available.
3) More evidence a switch to the 3-4 is coming in 2016?
- With the roster spot created by Stephon Gilmore going to Injured Reserve, the Bills plucked someone from the Oakland practice squad on Wednesday that added further proof that there may be some big changes coming in 2016. The Bills signed defensive end Max Valles, a sixth-round pick from this past year who is 21 years old, to play on their active roster. Valles does not have the body and frame of a typical defensive end at 6-foot-4 and 250-pounds. He’ll most likely contribute to the roster as a 3-4 outside linebacker, which was confirmed by going through drills with the linebackers during Wednesday’s practice. That means Valles, defensive end Lavar Edwards, and defensive tackle T.J. Barnes have been the three-most recent additions to the roster. Their positions? A 3-4 outside linebacker, a 3-4 defensive end, and a 3-4 nose tackle. Changes, they are a comin’.
4) Bradham incredibly limited
- The Bills are holding out hope that Nigel Bradham can get away with only missing two weeks of practice and games with his high ankle sprain, but they’ll need to see a lot more progress from him on Thursday if they hope to not make it a third straight week. Bradham was very limited during Wednesday’s practice, doing minimal work and not even working with the first-team during the media portion of practice. When he ran, it looked like he still had a hitch to his running motion. If he can’t show the training staff enough over the next two days, the Bills will be forced to go with Manny Lawson as their other every-down linebacker next to Preston Brown once again.
5) No Clay Wednesday
- The Buffalo Bills missed starting tight end Charles Clay quite a bit during the Week 14 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Having to leave the game fairly early, the Bills had to rely on former fourth-string tight end Chris Gragg most heavily — and his poor blocking skills were exploited by Eagles defenders. On Wednesday, the Bills were once again without Clay who is dealing with a back injury, which puts his status for Sunday against Washington up in the air. The Bills need a speedy recovery from Clay, or, to put a bigger workload on rookie Nick O’Leary this weekend, due to him being the superior blocker between Gragg and himself.
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