The Bills today placed linebackers Shawne Merriman and Keith Ellison on the injured reserve list. They promoted receiver Naaman Roosevelt and linebacker Thomas Williams to the 53-man roster.
Merriman has been bothered by a sore Achilles tendon for more than a year. He and the Bills decided he needs a lengthy period to get healthy. He winds up making $1.7 million from the Bills for being with the team the last nine games. Ellison has been hindered by a sore knee since the fifth week of the season.
Roosevelt is the University at Buffalo's career leading receiver. He has been on the practice squad since the start of the season. Williams is a 6-1, 240-pound product of Southern California.
Bills coach Chan Gailey said after practice Friday that guard Eric Wood is out for Sunday's game against Pittsburgh. Wood has a sore ankle. That means second-year man Kraig Urbik will start in his place. Urbik was a third-round pick of the Steelers out of Wisconsin in 2009.
Defensive tackle Spencer Johnson (hamstring) also is out. Cornerback Terrence McGee did not practice and is questionable, but he doesn't look promising to play due to the nerve pain in his knee.
Running back C.J. Spiller practiced on a limited basis again Friday. He's questionable.
Kyle Williams (ankle), Chris Kelsay (knee), and Demetrius Bell (knee) all practiced and will be ready to play.
Bills coach Chan Gailey gave safety Jairus Byrd a vote of confidence Wednesday. Byrd does not have an interception this season after making nine last season and was pulled during parts of the second half vs. the Bengals in favor of George Wilson.
Does Gailey think Byrd is struggling?
“No, I don’t," said the coach. "A lot is made of statistics and I don’t want to get too carried away with statistics. Last year the nine picks were an anomaly. That doesn’t normally happen to a guy right off the bat. It happened to him, and so now everybody sets the bar there and it’s almost not fair to him. He’s playing hard, he’s working. He’s getting better. He’s trying to understand exactly what we’re trying to get done each week. And we’re changing some things up. It’s not like we’re going out there and playing the same thing every week. We change stuff against different teams. So he doesn’t have the statistics he had last year, but he’s going to be a very good player and he’s going to be that for a very long time.”
Bills coach Chan Gailey said "Outside chance - not great" when asked about whether running back C.J. Spiller and defensive tackle Spencer Johnson would play Sunday vs. Pittsburgh.
Both players are nursing sore hamstrings. Johnson worked out on a bicycle and did some running on the sideline during practice Wednesday, held at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Spiller did some working out on the side then went back to the fieldhouse.
Cornerback Terrence McGee had a flareup of the nerve problem that has affected him in the knee area and did not practice. It's not believed to be serious. Also not practicing were: Eric Wood (ankle), Demetrius Bell (knee), Keith Ellison (knee), Chris Kelsay (knee), Kyle Williams (ankle), and Shawne Merriman (calf/Achilles).
Bell should be back at practice Thursday. Wood probably will sit out Thursday and may test himself Friday. Kelsay and Williams are expected to play vs. the Steelers. Merriman is out.
Gailey said Monday it's possible Merriman will miss the rest of the season. Asked if he would play Merriman if the linebacker could be back at any point toward the end of the year, Gailey said yes.
“First of all you’ve got to take into consideration is a guy healthy enough," Gailey said. "In his case is the guy healthy enough to get on the field. Second of all if you get good players, you’ve got to try to use them. I don’t care when it is. You’ve got to try to use good players and he’s proven that he’s been a good player in years past. If it comes to that and it’s down to the last couple of games I think it’s better to know and to let him play and for us to know what he can do in our defense than it is not to know and have it always be questioned.”
Meanwhile, starting safety Troy Polamalu (ankle) was held out of practice for Pittsburgh.
Bills coach Chan Gailey gave Ryan Fitzpatrick his strongest endorsement yet on Wednesday.
Asked if there's any way he could imagine Fitzpatrick not being the starting quarterback next season, Gailey said:
"Today? No there's no way I can envision that."
After another couple of questions, Gailey was asked, "So you forsee him being in the mix for next season at this point?" Gailey said, "Oh sure. To be honest with you that’d be kinda dumb not to think that, the way the guy's played. I mean, he’s played extremely well. How would you not think that?"
"Hey, I don’t give anything away," Gailey said. "Guys earn it. He’s earned it."
So that suggests a change in thinking at the top of the organization about the quarterback position, is that fair to say?
“Don’t read anything into it," Gailey said. "The guy's playing extremely well. I’m not even thinking about next year. I’m thinking about the Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s all I’m thinking about. Y’all are getting way ahead of this thing."
Bills receiver Stevie Johnson said today he was fined $5,000 for his uniform violation in Sunday's win at Cincinnati.
Johnson wrote "Why so serious?" on his undershirt and exhibited after scoring a couple of touchdowns against the Bengals. The quote was a reference to a statement by the character the Joker in the Batman movie. Bengals receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco refer to themselves as Batman and Robin. Johnson also was fined after the Week Three game against New England in which he mimed shooting a musket after scoring a touchdown. The Patriots have a mascot fire off a musket on the sideline after New England TDs.
Johnson said he doesn't regret wearing the T-shirt, but he has learned a lesson. Asked if the fine discourages him from further demonstrations, Johnson said:
"Yeah, it does. I’ll just be smarter about it. I didn’t go in expecting to get fined. It was just a fun gesture and I got in trouble for it."
Asked how many messages he got on his cell phone from family and friends after his three-TD performance Sunday, Johnson said: "What’s a cell phone? I can’t even use my cell phone anymore. It’s too many. I had 189 voice mails. … Text messages was ridiculous."
Bills coach Chan Gailey is apparently no fan of Batman movies. The coach was asked to comment on Stevie Johnson’s "why so serious?" touchdown celebration from Sunday, a reference to the Joker’s famous line from the movie “The Dark Knight.”
Johnson was having some fun with Bengals receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, who refer to themselves as Batman and Robin.
“What do you want me to say?” Gailey said. “I didn’t see the movies. I didn’t see the T-shirt. I didn’t see anything.”
The coach was then asked if Johnson’s celebration, which has become a sensation on YouTube with nearly 20,000 views, concerned him.
“You’ve got to be smart in this business,” Gailey said. “It will be interesting to see what the league does.”
Right guard Eric Wood could miss a game after injuring his left leg Sunday against the Bengals, coach Chan Gailey said today.
"It'll be close on him. He many not make it this week. We'll have to just see," the coach said.
Wood injured the same leg that was broken in horrifying fashion last season against Jacksonville, ending his rookie year. In that instance, he was rolled up on and suffered a broken tibia and fibula, an injury so graphic CBS elected to show the replay just once.
Sunday's injury happened to the same leg, but not related to the fractures.
"He just got banged up on the same leg. Kind of a sprain, bruise, all that," Gailey said.
Guard Kraig Urbik replaced Wood on Sunday and would likely start against Pittsburgh if the latter can't go.
Rookie running back C.J. Spiller and defensive end Spencer Johnson will be re-evaluated later this week after missing Sunday's game. Gailey said both have a chance to play against the Steelers.
"We'll have to wait and see. It's getting closer, there's a chance for [Spiller] to play this week, both he and Spencer. Both we're going to err on the side of caution on both of those. There's a lot of games left," the coach said.
Linebacker Shawne Merriman's career with the Buffalo Bills may not include an actual game. That surprising piece of news was revealed by coach Chan Gailey today during his Monday press conference with the Buffalo media.
Gailey was first asked if Merriman would practice this week.
"I don't see, that, no. I don't see that this week," the coach said.
That led to Gailey being asked about Merriman's chance to play Sunday against Pittsburgh.
"I'm not confident about this week at all," was the coach's response.
Merriman was claimed off waivers from the San Diego Chargers by the Bills on Nov. 3. He's being paid $1.7 million for the final nine weeks of the season, at which time his contract expires.
Later in the interview, Gailey was asked whether Merriman would suit up at all this season for the Bills.
"I don't know. That's a good question. I think that would be something that I would have to address each and every week, to see where he is and see what the doctors say and see what's going to happen with that. I don't know that yet," the coach said.
Told he didn't sound confident Merriman could eventually play, Gailey responded: "Well, I'm not. There's got to be something that gives me confidence. Nobody's said, 'ok, you can expect him in two weeks. Nobody's said that yet."