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Major NFL injuries underscore the randomness of health

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has said many times in the past that a team needs luck to be successful.

That sentiment is particularly germane given what's happened around the NFL over the past 48 hours and with the Bills holding their first practice of training camp tonight.

Already lost for the season are Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin (knee), Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) and Denver Broncos center Dan Koppen (knee).

Arizona Cardinals rookie receiver Ryan Swope retired over concussion fears. Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Ryan Miller suffered a scary head injury Saturday and was taken off the field by ambulance.

The Bills have been fortunate to avoid catastrophic training-camp injuries in recent years, and new head coach Doug Marrone will need that kind of luck to get off on the right foot this year.

But that luck must continue into the regular season, too.

That's where the Bills have gotten crushed under Dick Jauron and Chan Gailey, coaches who went out of their way to try and prevent injuries but couldn't escape the minefield.

Jauron limited contact in training camp and generally made it through unscathed until the real games began. At the end of the 2009 season, which Jauron didn't finish, the Bills had 19 players on injured reserve.

Gailey and previous GM Buddy Nix beefed up the Bills' strength-and-conditioning program to help keep players on the field, but many still landed on injured reserve. Star pass-rusher Mario Williams suffered a preseason wrist injury that he claimed hurt his performances in the first half of the season.

With all of the headline-grabbing injuries we've already seen around the NFL, folks will be holding their breath every time a player goes down or requires medical attention.

Whether or not he gets up could make a significant impact on the season.


Buddy Nix | Chan Gailey | Dick Jauron | Doug Marrone
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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 |