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Knee injury could sideline center Eric Wood for rest of season


By Tim Graham

Eric Wood had a smile on his face. He even went so far as to say he was relieved his injury wasn't worse than it was.

Yet there's no doubt the Buffalo Bills center is frustrated that his third leg injury in three years has jeopardized the rest of his season. Wood has a partially torn medial-collateral ligament that will keep him out of the next two games and perhaps all four remaining on Buffalo's schedule.

Wood was injured with about 10 minutes left in Sunday's 34-18 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He initially was in denial that he had gotten hurt again.

"It's disappointing that it happened," Wood said. "I was in disbelief. I just played the next play. I was, like, 'Oh, whatever. I'm not coming out.' I felt a little instability on the next play and I was, like, 'Well, it's something.' "

Wood said a Jaguars defensive end crashed into him on a clean play while trying to make a tackle. He called it "another stupid, fluke accident."

Wood suffered a compound fracture of his lower left leg against Jacksonville in November 2009. He tore his right anterior-cruciate ligament against the Dallas Cowboys in November last year.

"It's unbelievable," Wood said. "You do all you can to prepare. You keep your feet moving on every play. You think of all the things that could've gotten you in the past and you try to improve it for this year, and with my legs moving a guy comes flying down the line of scrimmage -- trying to make a play on the back, not a dirty play -- and dives right through the side of my knee."

Wood was wearing a knee brace, preventing Sunday's injury from being worse.

"Them saying it was just a partial tear in your MCL was a huge relief," Wood said. "I texted my wife and said, 'It's an MCL tear.' And she was, like, 'Thank God.' She doesn't want to go through surgery again.

"But the fact I have to miss time ticks me off to no end."

Bills coach Chan Gailey intends to shift Kraig Urbik to center and insert David Snow at right guard for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Bills running back Fred Jackson noted Wood's absence will hurt.

"He's the captain of the offensive line," Jackson said. "He gets everybody in their right spots. It's a huge loss for us, but we have guys that we know can step in and take over for him."

The Bills also could be without right tackle Chris Hairston, who was in a walking boot and likely will be unavailable Sunday. That would put Sam Young at right tackle and leave the Bills with only reserve Thomas Welch.

Gailey acknowledged the Bills might need to make a roster move for more O-line depth. They later released linebacker Kirk Morrison.

(Photo: Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |