There’s bad luck, then there’s whatever it is Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood has been cursed with.
The fourth-year center is hurt again, this time with a partially torn medial-collateral ligament in his left knee.
The injury will keep him out at least the next two games, and could cost him the final four of the year.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” Wood said. “When it happened, I was in disbelief. I just played the next play — I was like, ‘well, whatever, I’m not coming out.’ And then I felt instability on the next play and I was like, ‘oh, I better say something.’”
Wood was hurt with about 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 38-14 win over Jacksonville when a Jaguars defensive lineman crashed into him trying to make a tackle.
It’s the third time in four professional seasons he’s suffered a leg injury, although the first two were of a more serious variety.
As a rookie in November 2009, he suffered a compound fracture of his left leg in a game at Jacksonville, then in November of last year tore the anterior-cruciate ligament in his right knee at Dallas.
“I knew something was wrong, so getting an MRI and them saying it’s just a partial tear in your MCL is a huge relief. I texted my wife and said it’s an MCL tear, and she said, ‘Thank God.’ She doesn’t want to go through surgery again, I was relieved from that standpoint but the fact that I have to miss time just ticks me off to no end,” Wood said.
Coach Chan Gailey said the plan is to shift right guard Kraig Urbik over to center and replace him with rookie undrafted free agent David Snow. That’s how the Bills finished Sunday’s win.
“That’s always tough to lose a good player, and he’s obviously one of our best players,” Gailey said. “We’ve gone through this before. Hopefully we’ll continue on in the same vain. We won’t as well, but we’ll try to as best we can.”
Wood was limited in the preseason as he recovered from ACL surgery, but has been a constant fixture on the offensive line since the regular season began. In fact, the only game in which he had come out for even a play was in Week Two, when he was in for 51 of 57 snaps (89 percent) of a blowout victory over Kansas City.
Entering Week 13, Wood had played in 689 of 695 offensive snaps, or 99 percent.
“It was amazing. He did a great job of getting ready for the season. He continually got stronger. He was getting stronger and stronger and stronger as the year wore on,” Gailey said. “He wasn’t going back, he was going forward, which was great. He was playing probably on one and three-quarters legs to start the season and it was getting better each week it seemed like, so you hate to see it for a guy who fought so hard to get back.”
Wood was wearing a knee brace at the time, which prevented the injury from being worse.
“It’s unbelievable. You do all you can to prepare, you keep your feet moving on every play, you think of all the things that could’ve got you in the past and you try and improve it for this year,” he said.
Wood started all 49 games of his collegiate career at Louisville, so this run of injuries as a pro as left him exasperated.
“There’s literally nothing I can do about it. They MRI’d my knee [Monday] morning and said ‘your knee looks perfect.’ [I] literally have no damage except for an MCL, which is pretty rare for an O-linemen. It’s just stupid stuff keeps happening.”
In response to Wood’s injury, the Bills released linebacker Kirk Morrison on Monday, presumably to add interior along the offensive line.
Right tackle Chris Hairston suffered a bruised ankle against the Jaguars, and Gailey said “it’s probably going to be tough for him to make it” for Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams.
Morrison, an eight-year veteran in his second season with the Bills, had been inactive for the first 12 games of the season. He apppeared in 14 games with the team last year.
The Bills have a pair of offensive linemen in Andrew Jackson and Keith Williams on the practice squad, and it’s likely one will be promoted prior to Sunday.