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Draft spot: 2nd to 9th

The Bills currently stand fourth in the selection order for the 2011 NFL Draft. They could rise as high as second or fall as low as ninth, depending on the results of the final week of games on Sunday.

The Bills currently would lose out in a tie-breaker with any team in the draft order. But it's close with a couple of them. Week 16 was not a good one in the tie-breaker race for the Bills, because nine of the 13 teams on the Bills' schedule won. 

The current draft order, followed by the team's record and the number of wins by the opponents on each team's schedule:

1. Carolina 2-13 (136). 2. Denver 4-11 (121). 3. Cincinnati 4-11 (139). 4. Buffalo 4-11 (140). 5. Arizona 5-10 (109). 6. San Francisco 5-10 (116). 7. Dallas 5-10 (121). 8t. Houston 5-10 (129). 8t. Detroit 5-10 (129). 10. Cleveland 5-10 (135).

As you all probably know, the team with the harder schedule picks later in the draft order, when there's a tie in the record. Head to head games mean nothing.

The final week's relevant games:

San Diego at Denver. Cincinnati at Baltimore. Buffalo at Jets. Arizona at San Francisco. Dallas at Philadelphia. Jacksonville at Houston. Minnesota at Detroit. Pittsburgh at Cleveland.

Since Arizona and San Francisco meet, one of them is guaranteed to draft later than the Bills.

The Jets have very little motivation this week. Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Jacksonville have big motivation. Philadelphia has little motivation.

---Mark Gaughan



Bills shut out of Pro Bowl

---For the first time in 24 years, the Buffalo Bills didn't have a player named to the Pro Bowl, which was announced by the NFLtonight.

The Bills, who enter Sunday’s game against the New York Jets with a dismal 4-11 record, didn’t have players named to the Pro Bowl in 1985 and ’86, the last time no one was from the team was honored in pro football’s all-star game. The only other years Bills players were omitted were in 1960, the inaugural season of the team, and 1970.

---Rodney McKissic


Nelson needs a 'true miracle' to play

David Nelson says he might be ready to play against the New York Jets, but Bills coach Chan Gailey said that would take “a true miracle’’ for the rookie receiver to recover by game time.

Nelson suffered a rib injury during the first half of Sunday’s loss against New England and didn’t return. Nelson fully extended him to make a catch and was hit in the rib cage by a helmet.

During his postgame press conference, Gailey said Nelson would miss the Jets game.

“I’m glad he’s feeling better, but I don’t think that status is going to change,’’ Gailey said on Monday. “[The rib] isn’t broken, but it’s bad enough that he’ll have a hard time playing this week. It would take a true miracle for him to get out there this week.’’

Nelson, however, said he’s still being evaluated and an official prognosis hasn’t been determined.

“I don’t think that’s set in stone yet,’’ Nelson said about missing Sunday’s game. “We kind of came back [Monday] and re-evaluated some things and I think the process now is heavy treatment, try and see where it goes and take it day-by-day. I hate missing games and I hate sitting out. I’ve never been injured and I don’t like the sitting out part of it.’’

Nelson said he wanted to re-enter the game during the second half but wasn’t cleared by team trainers.

“They felt it would be better to take it easy and get ready for this week,’’ Nelson said.   

Gailey did, rule out placing Nelson on season-ending injured reserve, although he indicated he will add another receiver to the active roster. The Bills currently have two wideouts on the practice squad in Paul Hubbard and Bobby Williams.

“We’ll probably get another receiver anticipating [Nelson] won’t play,’’ Gailey said.

Meanwhile Gailey said there’s a chance center Geoff Hangartner (knee) could play, although he remained cautious. Hangartner has missed the team’s last three games with a knee injury and second-year guard Eric Wood has started in his place at center.

“We’re trying to be smart about that,’’ Gailey said. “[It’s] the last game and we don’t want to risk it maybe but we’ll see how it goes this week. He’s got a great chance to be active this week and he certainly gives us the best chance to win but exposing him to a whole ball game, I’m not sure about that.’’

Also, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said he’s sore but that’s been the case for about a month. Gailey said Fitzpatrick could miss Wednesday’s practice but anticipates the veteran returning on Thursday. Receiver Donald Jones could miss Wednesday practice and return by Thursday. Jones left Sunday’s game with what appeared to be a head injury.

---Rodney McKissic


Bills Replay Live Chat

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Brady kills 'em with kindness

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady usually lets his play on the field speak louder than his words off it, so it was no surprise he avoided verbal sparring with Ravens star Terrell Suggs. Suggs, you'll recall, said this week he left Brady off his Pro Bowl ballot. Suggs picked Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick ahead of Brady.

Asked about Suggs today, Brady told Boston reporters: “I think he is a great player, he really is. I didn’t get to vote, actually. I left everybody off my Pro Bowl roster this year because I was sick. I would’ve voted for Terrell. He gets my vote, such a nice guy."

It would be great to see a Patriots-Ravens rematch in the playoffs this January. The Ravens destroyed the Pats, 33-14, in Foxborough last January. The Pats beat the Ravens at home, 23-20 in overtime, earlier this year.

---Mark Gaughan

Hangartner a maybe

Bills center Geoff Hangartner, who missed the past two games with a sore knee, participated in a limited amount of practice on Friday. His status is up in the air for Sunday's game against New England.

"Hangartner did a little bit more today," said coach Chan Gailey. "We're gonna list him as questionable. I don't know if we'll activate him or not. We'll wait and see."

The Bills are healthy otherwise this week. Everyone else praticed.

Meanwhile, Cleveland signed defensive lineman Ko Quaye off the Bills' practice squad to its active roster. The Bills filled that spot by signing defensive lineman Boo Robinson to the practice squad. Robinson is a 295-pounder from Wake Forest. He spent training camp with the Eagles.

---Mark Gaughan






Mark Gaughan's Live Chat

Brady practices

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was on the practice field Thursday. He had flu removed from the injury report, which indicated shoulder and foot as the reason he got limited work. Brady has been a fixture on the Patriots' injury report all season, but hasn't missed a start so expect him to be on the field on Sunday.

Meanwhile, several other key players sat out practice for the second straight day. Among the missing were wide receiver Deion Branch (knee), right guard Dan Connolly (concussion), tight end Aaron Hernandez (hip), outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain (groin) and defensive lineman Mike Wright (concussion).

Branch and Connolly are starters. Hernandez doesn't start, but his receiving skills are vital to the Patriots' passing game. Wright and Banta-Cain lead the team in sacks with 5.5 and five, respectively. Also, starting outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham (calf) didn’t practice Thursday after being limited the day before.

Players returning to practice Thursday were backup nose tackle Myron Pryor (back) and reserve defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick (shoulder).  

---Allen Wilson

Suggs picks Fitz over Brady on Pro Bowl ballot

Baltimore Ravens Terrell Suggs has such a distain for the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady that the veteran linebacker will take any opportunity to stick it to them. That's exactly what Suggs did after receiving his Pro Bowl ballot this week.

Asked by Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports whom he voted for, Suggs relied, "Philip Rivers. Peyton Manning,'' and after pausing for effect, he added, "And Ryan Fitzpatrick.''

Fitzpatrick, who finished out of the top five among AFC quarterbacks in the fan voting, would no doubt be flattered by Suggs' vote. Suggs might even be sincere given the way Fitz lit up the Ravens' defense earlier this season. But leaving Brady off the ballot entirely? Really? Fitzpatrick has had a good year, but it pales considerably in comparison to Brady's season.

Not voting for Brady makes about as much sense as those who omitted Auburn's Cam Newton from their Heisman Trophy ballot.

Suggs said part of his reasoning was Brady probably didn't vote for him either. But why Brady vote for Suggs, who hasn't played like a Pro Bowler this season? Brady also doesn't need Suggs' support. He's a lock to be the Pro Bowl starter, assuming the Patriots aren't in the Super Bowl the following week.

He won the fan vote and will be a runaway winner with the players' and coaches'. Brady also is the odds-on favorite to win his second NFL MVP award.

So in the end, Suggs' no vote won't make a bit of difference except in his own mind.

---Allen Wilson




Hangartner practices

Bills center Geoff Hangartner made a surprise appearance in practice Thursday. He has not participated in any football-related activity the past two weeks after suffering a sprained knee in a Week 13 loss at Minnesota.

Hangartner wasn't involved in any drills during the media viewing portion, but did do some limited work. Coach Chan Gailey didn't expect to see Hangartner practice this week, and sounded encouraged that Hangartner's return might come sooner rather than later.

“It was hoped for, but not expected,’’ Gailey said of Hangartner’s participation. “He did a little something the first part of practice, just to kind of get back into the swing of things.''

Hangartner is not expected to play on Sunday, but Gailey hasn't ruled it out yet.

"We’ll see toward the end of the week,'' he said. "Maybe, maybe not. I know we’re going to try to be smart. We’re not going to be dumb about it.’’

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Chris Kelsay and left tackle Demetrius Bell returned to practice after a normal Wednesday rest day.

---Allen Wilson

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