The NFL has fined the Buffalo Bills $20,000 for failing to disclose defensive end Mario Williams’ left wrist injury.
Since the season began, Williams and Gailey frequently referred to the injury as a reason why the free-agent star wasn’t more effective in games, but Williams hadn’t been listed on an injury report until after the loss in San Francisco.
A review of Bills transcripts shows Gailey first mentioned Williams’ wrist injury Sept. 10 in a news conference with local reporters. Williams’ first public comments were made Sept. 12, the first chance reporters had to ask him after Gailey broached the subject.
Williams has not missed a practice or a game because of the injury.
The NFL also fined the Washington Redskins $20,000 for failing to properly provide an in-game update on quarterback Robert Griffin III’s head injury in Week Five.
John Potter had a number in mind at the start of the season.
The Bills’ rookie kickoff specialist wanted to see 70 percent of his kicks go for touchbacks. So far, he’s fallen short of that goal. Potter’s kicked off 24 times (not including two onsides kicks), with 13 of those – 54.2 percent – going for touchbacks.
That number, which is tied for 13th in the NFL, puts Potter’s roster spot — or at least his presence on the game-day roster — in jeopardy, starting Sunday against Tennessee.
“I was hoping we would have more touchbacks and more non-returned kicks this year,” coach Chan Gailey said.
Of Potter’s 24 kickoffs, 84.6 percent have reached the end zone. That’s 14th in the NFL this season, below the league average of 87.6.
“I worked on it this week to get a little more drive on the ball, because the ones I hit shorter go higher hang time, but then they end up 1 to 5 yards deep,” Potter said. “Everybody’s taking them out. People are taking them out from up to 9 yards this season.”
The Bills have done a good job covering Potter’s kicks, allowing opponents an average drive start at the 20.6-yard line, which is 11th in the NFL.
“Our kickoff team is doing a great job when they’re bringing them out. It’s not necessarily an issue of how our kickoff team is doing, it’s more I need to hit touchbacks so our kickoff team gets a break. They’re all out there playing other positions,” Potter said.
Potter was especially disappointed in last Sunday’s game against Arizona, played indoors at University of Phoenix Stadium, where the last two of his three kickoffs were returned.
“I was trying to hit those last two a little harder than I should of. I just needed to relax and hit my ball because a lot of times when you try to hit it hard or try to hit those touchbacks, that’s when you get those mishits,” Potter said. “That’s something I’ve worked on this week, trying to relax, to calm myself down because that’s when your best balls come.”
“The good thing about it is when he kicks it, we have great hang time. That’s been a positive. You decide the tradeoff every week,” Gailey said.
The Bills made a change to their 53-man roster Friday, releasing veteran guard Reggie Wells and promoting David Snow from the practice squad.
Wells was signed Oct. 9 to provide insurance along the offensive line with starters Cordy Glenn and Kraig Urbik sidelined because of ankle injuries and key reserve Chad Rinehart hobbled because of a calf injury. The team chose not to have Wells active last week against Arizona, however, and the day before the game promoted Snow and defensive lineman Jay Ross to the active roster from the practice squad (releasing safety Delano Howell and running back Johnny White in the process).
Snow, 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds, was active against the Cardinals, but did not play. The rookie yo-yoed back to the practice squad after being released Monday, along with Ross, as the Bills signed end Shawne Merriman and brought back Howell.
Gailey was pleased with Merriman’s conditioning after three straight days of practice, saying he had a good chance to play Sunday.
“I feel pretty good. I stayed in shape the whole time, but you can never like really emulate football. I was taking some scout team reps just to try and get as much conditioning as I possibly can,” Merriman said. “Whether I’m up this week, I don’t know how the game plan will go, but I definitely did enough conditioning this week to be ready.”
The Bills’ injury report lists four players as questionable for Sunday’s game, but all sound like they have a good chance of playing.
Terrence McGee (knee), Kyle Williams (ankle), Da’Norris Searcy (ankle) and Spencer Johnson (ankle) all practiced on a limited basis Friday in Ralph Wilson Stadium. Gailey said Williams is “fine,” while both McGee and Searcy proclaimed themselves ready to play after practice.
Glenn, Urbik and defensive end Mark Anderson (knee) were ruled out. Gailey said both Glenn and Urbik are expected back after the team’s bye week.
Mario Williams (wrist) and Brad Smith (chest) practiced fully all week and are probable.
Tennessee listed three players as out: quarterback Jake Locker (shoulder), running back Javon Ringer (knee) and cornerback Tommy Campbell (ankle). Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey practiced Friday on a limited basis after missing two days and is questionable. Also questionable are linebacker Colin McCarthy (ankle), who did not practice all week, and tackle Mike Otto (knee).
News Sports Reporter Tim Graham contributed to this report.