Bills practice in London with plenty of injury worries
WATFORD, England (AP) — No matter how far the Buffalo Bills run, they just can’t hide from their injury problems.
The banged-up Bills (3-3) flew across the pond and arrived in London early this week after losing at home to the Cincinnati Bengals, a game in which backup quarterback EJ Manuel started and was inconsistent in the place of the injured Tyrod Taylor and the defense stumbled in the second half.
“We got to flush the toilet, so to speak, on one game,” Bills coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday. “There’s no question about it. We got to get better.”
The Bills will face the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in the second of three regular-season NFL games in London this year. The Jaguars are 0-2 at Wembley, while the Bills will be making their first appearance in Britain.
Ryan, however, still doesn’t know who will be taking the snaps on Sunday.
“It’s too early to tell about his outlook,” Ryan said of Taylor, who started the first five games of the season but sprained a ligament in his left knee in the 14-13 win over Tennessee on Oct. 11. “Obviously he’s going through treatments and we’ll see how he progresses through the week.”
Taylor said he was making progress and shared the reps with Manuel during Wednesday’s practice. He didn’t say if he was going to start on Sunday, however, but that he was getting himself prepared to play.
“It feels good. It’s getting better,” Taylor said of his knee. “We’re in good conversation as far as how I feel. At the end of the day, it’s up to the coaches to make the decision.”
Besides the questions surrounding Taylor, the Bills will also be without defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who is out indefinitely with what Ryan called “a significant” injury to his left knee. Williams was carted off after being hurt late in the fourth quarter of the 34-21 loss to the Bengals on Sunday.
And receiver Percy Harvin is absent because of what the coach called “a personal issue,” without elaborating further.
The injury to Williams is a big problem for a defense that has been struggling and has so far failed to play up to its high-priced expectations. Williams is a 10-year veteran and respected team leader who has been formidable against the run and pressuring opposing passers.
The Bills are already missing starting safety Aaron Williams, who is out until at least December because of a neck injury.
Cornerback Leodis McKelvin returned to practice but remains on the reserve/non-football injury list. McKelvin missed the remainder of last season after breaking his right ankle in November. He aggravated the injury in July and had a follow-up operation before the start of training camp.
“We’ve had a ton of injuries, just a bunch of them, that’s kind of offset us a little bit,” Ryan said. “Right now we got to make do with where we’re at.
“Did we want to have a better record? Absolutely we did. But we’ve earned the 3-3 record.”
Buffalo has missed the playoffs for 15 consecutive seasons — the NFL’s longest active playoff drought. And over that stretch, they’ve had just two winning seasons, 9-7 finishes in 2004 and 2014.
Ryan was supposed to usher in a new era, but the Bills are 1-3 at home with three straight losses in Buffalo while the team’s defense has been playing well below its own elite expectations.
“We’ll face the music. We got no problem facing the music,” Ryan said. “We’re disappointing ourselves, we’re disappointing our fans, we get all that, but, man, we’re going to do what we can to right the ship.”