Blood Bath in Buffalo
By Jo E. Prout
If Buffalo Bills fans wanted to watch a blood bath, they could watch the film 300 instead of NFL football whenever Buffalo takes the field. It is true the Bills are rebuilding, but, as in a losing war, the team's injury list has grown faster than the ground Buffalo has gained in wins.
When Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone listed the players injured in the game Buffalo lost to the Cleveland Browns, fans and critics heard the bell toll on the remainder of the season.
“[Quarterback] EJ Manuel has a lateral collateral ligament... We expect him back somewhere during the season,” Marrone said. “[Wide receiver] Stevie Johnson had a lumbar strain. It’s actually already better than expected, so I think with the time that we have playing on a Thursday… I anticipate that he’ll be fine coming up for the following week. [Running back] C.J. Spiller, obviously, after the game, was sore… I give him a lot of credit, fighting through the pain and playing.” Manuel and Johnson were injured during the Browns game; Spiller was nursing a previous ankle injury.
Will the Bills' season continue on this gruesome path? The players are not convinced it will.
Running back Fred Jackson spoke about the adversity the team has faced so far.
“We’ve got to meet it head on,” he said. “It’s part of the game – lose guys, lose the game – you have to come back and respond.”
Wide receiver Robert Woods agreed about the Bills’ need to trudge on.
“I mean it’s a tough loss,” Woods said of Manuel’s injury. “He was playing well early,” Woods said of Manuel. “The injury set in. At that moment you pray for him, but then you have to keep going and check up on him at the end of the game.”
The Bills are hoping that players returning from past injuries will alleviate some of the pain Buffalo could face on the field without key players like Manuel and Spiller.
Marrone said that safety Jairus Byrd will be ready to play for the Bills’ next game, as will corner back Ron Brooks, corner back Stephon Gilmore, kicker Dustin Hopkins, and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.
“We have to make more game changing plays, turnovers, sacks, more sack fumbles and more interceptions,” said defensive end Mario Williams. Running back Fred Jackson echoed Williams.
“Hopefully we can get some guys back from injuries and do what we’ve got to do to hit the ground running when we come back for the next game,” Jackson said.
If the Bills are limping instead of running, the season may be too difficult to stomach.