Loss of Wood stings, but Bills have other issues to address
Tuesday November 15, 2011 | By:Charles Roberts, Sports Reporter
The Buffalo Bills announced Monday that center Eric Wood will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL late in the third quarter Sunday in Dallas. Terrible news for a team already victimized this season by the injury bug.
“It sucks,” said Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. “But you know it’s part of the game and we all understand that. Injuries happen every day. Our heart goes out to him and we hope it’s a speedy recovery for him.
“But we’ve got to move on to the next guy that’s got to step up.”
The next guy Fitzpatrick referred to is likely Andy Levitre, who has already played a pair of positions on the Bills’ offensive line this season.
“He’s having a great season at guard and then we asked him to fill in at tackle and he’s done a good job out there,” Fitzpatrick said. “If we throw him at center, again, he’s a good player. I’m sure he’s going to do just fine there. At this point, we’ll probably have to move him in and assess him more than anything obviously.”
But the loss of Wood is hardly an excuse for the team’s poor play – Sunday or moving forward. The Bills were trailing 31-7 at the time of Wood’s injury; they were well on their way to the second consecutive blowout loss before he went down.
The Bills have at least a trio of problems: defensive back, wide receiver and the non-existent pass-rush. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin’s arms can’t seem to catch up to his legs. Wide receiver Donald Jones can’t catch up to the speed of the game. And the pass rush…well…it might have just landed at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
“Leodis is struggling,” said Bills head coach Chan Gailey. “He’ll tell you that I’m sure. You have to have extreme confidence out on the edge like that. It’s like a pitcher, walking up there every time he takes the mound he’s got to have that confidence that no matter what happened the last game or the previous three games. You’ve got to have that kind of confidence.
“His confidence has been shaken a little bit and we’ve got to get him back to where his confidence can be regained. We’ll look at everything, how best to do that.”
The defense as a whole has been porous this year – getting burned for more than 400 yards six times, including 433 Sunday in Dallas. And while the unit has 15 sacks on the season, 10 of them came against a Washington Redskins team seemingly getting worse by the week.
Losing Wood – the third starter placed on the injured reserve list this season – is undoubtedly a major blow. But if this team wants to right the ship, there are plenty of bolts to tighten up before sailing off to Miami next week for a tilt with the Dolphins – winners of two straight after losing their first seven.
Still, a matchup with the Matt Moore-quarterbacked Dolphins could be just what the doctor ordered for the ailing Bills (5-4). A win keeps them in the AFC East mix, despite losing three of the preceding four contests. A loss, however, would only further promote Gailey’s post-game sentiments in Dallas.
“We’re more of a pretender than a contender,” he said in the press conference.
Sunday was the Bills' first appearance at Cowboys Stadium, now in its second year of operation. The Cowboys’ 44-7 victory makes it seven consecutive regular-season losses for the Bills when playing in a venue for the first time, including the Rogers Centre in Toronto (2008).
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