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The news from One Bills Drive yesterday was that starting Pro Bowl safety, Jairus Byrd is out “indefinitely” with a nagging groin injury. That is not good news for the Bills, but it is definitely consistent with the pattern of recent history.
If you only follow the Buffalo Bills from a distance, it’s easy to just laugh them off. Their ten straight seasons of missing the playoffs, and their consistently mediocre-to-bad records, along with no superstars to speak of (save for Terrell Owens in 2009, of course) makes them more often the punchline of an NFL-related joke than a respected NFL franchise.
But if you’re up a bit closer, as a long-time fan of the red, white, and (used-to-be) royal blue… you’re apt to think that you don’t have any idea what to think about this team.
That’s because, in three of the past four years (including this one, 2010) the Bills have been ridiculously “snake-bitten” by injuries. (I haven’t officially heard that any of the players are out due to snake bite, but honestly, it wouldn’t be that surprising…) We have no idea if this team is good or not, because we have never seen this team play!
In 2007, the Bills finished the year with 17 players on Injured Reserve. And you’ll probably recall it started off in week one with Kevin Everett’s career-ending—and very close to life-ending—neck injury. It was all very downhill from there. After only suffering key injuries in 2008, the Bills bested their 2007 “performance” in 2009 by finishing the season with 20 players on the IR.
Now, as they prepare for their second preseason game of the 2010 season, they only have two players on any sort of injured lists, but there will be a handful (or two) of players on the sidelines.
In their first preseason game, last week against Washington, there were 13 players out at kickoff, and two more injured on the first drive! That was followed by a few more felled fellows this week in training camp… what is going on with this team?!?
Thankfully, the Bills will get a few players back tonight.
Starting offensive linemen LT Demetrius Bell and RG Eric Wood will be seeing their first game action since being injured last season (they were two of the 20 players from last year’s IR list). Also returning tonight will be LBs Paul Posluszny, Chris Kelsay, and Keith Ellison. So it’s not all bad news for the Bills.
But really, what gives? How can there be so many injuries to key players on one team?
What looked like one of their strongest positions—running back—with Fred Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, and rookie C.J. Spiller is now somewhat suspect with Lynch out with an ankle injury, and Jackson hoping to be back in time for the regular season opener. And what was a deep position for the Bills—wide receiver—is now a tad more questionable with James Hardy still trying to get healthy enough to play, rookie Marcus Easley out indefinitely, and free agent hopeful David Nelson going down this week at practice.
Speaking of rookies, along with WR Marcus Easley, Buffalo is also minus several other 2010 draft choices, including OL Ed Wang, DL Alex Carrington, and LB Danny Batten. Wang and Easley (two rookies Buffalo was hoping to get some production from) are the more serious injuries, and thankfully, Carrington was back to practice this week, otherwise, four of Buffalo’s 9 draft picks would be out by the second preseason game.
It really is incredible.
Football is a team sport. Probably the team sport most reliant on the team being a team. Individuals do not succeed in football without the full support of everyone else on the team. And really, one of the key positions is usually one of the least noticed: Offensive Line. Sadly, that is where most of the Bills’ injuries have been. And continue to be, though starting tonight, the Bills are hopeful they can actually have a solid, starting unit together for a good string of games. (Minus RT Cornell Green, who is questionable for tonight’s game.)
I’m really not making any excuses. Certainly there are other factors involved. (Remember Dick Jauron?) But, if the Bills were ever able to field their best players, all at the same time… they actually might be not too bad.
But it sure seems like we’ll just never know!
For an up-to-date Buffalo Bills injury tracker, check out this page at BillsDaily.com.