PHOENIX – A couple weeks ago, the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line seemed to be emerging as the soul of the team. The unit set an aggressive tone. It was devastating in the run game and wasn’t letting defenders get a paw on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Now somebody needs to save its soul.
“We had a great thing going,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said Monday at the team’s hotel in Phoenix. The Bills will work out at Arizona State’s facilities this week in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
“The ability that we had as an offense, to be able to adjust because of their experience and because of the time they’ve spent with each other on the offensive line, that’s gone now.”
Two O-line starters and two backups are injured, and a third-stringer who was pressed into duty Sunday in San Francisco might start at a position for the first time in his career.
“I hate to use a drastic word, but we’re depleted there,” Gailey said. “That was one of the strengths, we felt like, going into the season. ... We’ll have to mix and match and do the best we can.”
Already out are starting left tackle Cordy Glenn and starting right guard Kraig Urbik with ankle injuries and backup center/guard Colin Brown with a hamstring injury.
Urbik’s replacement, Chad Rinehart, missed a practice last week with a calf injury. He struggled through pregame warmups and was pulled from the starting lineup right before Sunday’s loss to the 49ers and replaced by Brown, who lasted a quarter.
Rinehart entered the game in the second quarter but eventually had to come out. Sam Young, listed as the third-string right tackle on the depth chart, finished the game at right guard.
Gailey said Rinehart will not practice Wednesday.
“We’re gonna rest him Wednesday, but we think he’s got a decent chance to play the game,” the coach said.
“It’s been pretty nuts so far,” Bills center Eric Wood said. “We’ve had some injuries in the past, but they haven’t come in waves like this. My rookie year, we were in bad shape. But I still don’t think it was as bad as this.
“We got a pretty deep room, and I don’t think we played terrible with backups playing and backups of backups. I felt like we still executed at times. It’s the next-man-up philosophy.”
Asked if the Bills would need to sign O-line help for the Cardinals game, Gailey replied, “Let’s wait and see until the end of the week.”
Defensive end Mark Anderson suffered a knee injury versus the 49ers. He went for a magnetic-resonance imaging test Monday to assess the knee.
Meanwhile, safety Jairus Byrd left the game late with a sore chest. He had been dealing with a sore hip, too. Gailey said Byrd has a chance to play Sunday.
Gailey on whether he thinks about his job security: “I want you to know I’m always worried about the job I do. I don’t worry about employment. I worry about doing the job I’ve been hired to do. We haven’t done an acceptable job the last couple weeks, and I understand that. We’re in a production business. ... If we don’t get it straightened out, it’s gonna be a long, hard season.