The victory by the Buffalo Bills on Sunday over the Jacksonville Jaguars could come with a high price.
Four Buffalo starters – center Eric Wood, receiver Stevie Johnson, right tackle Chris Hairston and cornerback Leodis McKelvin – left the game because of injury.
Coach Chan Gailey didn’t have an update on the condition of any of the players after the game, but Wood’s appeared to be the most serious.
He declined an interview request from The Buffalo News in the locker room after the game, and had his left knee immobilized. He was hurt with about 10 minutes to play in the game.
Hairston, who didn’t return after suffering a right ankle injury, told The News after the game the injury was “not too bad.”
“I feel like I can come back next week,” he said.
Johnson suffered a left hamstring injury, but didn’t sound overly concerned.
“It’s tight. That’s all it is,” he said. “I think we’re going to get some work on it and be back next week.”
Johnson was hurt on the play before he caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the third quarter.
“I felt it when I made the cut and afterward it was like, ‘if I go out there again, I think it’ll end up pulling or something,’ ” he said.
McKelvin’s back tightened Saturday night. That meant rookie Ron Brooks made his first career start. McKelvin went out for the Bills’ first punt return and gained 12 yards, then made a fair catch on his second attempt. He was in noticeable pain coming off the field, though, and did not return.
“He got here and we tried to get it loosened up, but he just couldn’t go,” Gailey said.
Brooks had an up-and-down day in his first start, making nine tackles and breaking up three passes, but also getting flagged for three penalties. He was targeted early and often by Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne.
“As a competitor and as a cornerback, you always look to make plays. You want them to come at you,” said Brooks, who learned in the morning he’d make his first start. “The first play of the game they came at me. Once that happened it was like, ‘here we go. Let’s get ready.’
“You always feel like you can get better and work on little things, but for the most part I think I did pretty good. ... The whole team played well.”
Former Bills punter Chris Mohr received the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Distinguished Service award in a ceremony prior to the game.
Mohr, who played for the team from 1991 to 2000, is the 35th winner of the award, which was established in 1986 to honor former players and staff for long and meritorious service to the team (multiple recipients have received the award in some seasons). Mohr was active in community service as a volunteer for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Women’s and Children’s Hospital during his time in Buffalo.
The Bills were without No. 2 receiver Donald Jones, who was inactive because of a calf injury.
“It was as much precautionary as it was him being in bad shape,” Gailey said. “I think that may be a week-to-week thing. We just have to make sure he’s able to push off and do everything that he needs to do.”
Cornerback Aaron Williams (knee) and defensive ends Chris Kelsay (neck) and Mark Anderson (knee) also missed the game because of injury.
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and linebacker Kirk Morrison were healthy inactives, as they have been all season. Offensive tackle Thomas Welch was the other inactive.
Former Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny tied for the Jaguars’ team high with nine tackles and also had a second-quarter interception of Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
“It’s great to be back here in a sense because there’s so many good people, great people that you get to see from the organization,” said Posluszny, who spent the first four years of his career with the Bills after being a second-round draft pick in 2007. “It’s different playing against your buddies. ... Guys that you came in with as a rookie, there were older guys and they helped you out, now you’re competing against them and being on the opposite sideline, it’s different and it always will be.”
Gailey on Fitzpatrick’s 51-yard completion to T.J. Graham in the first quarter:
“We saw it on film that we thought that he’d be able to beat that guy [Jaguars cornerback Kevin Rutland]. They had some corners which they were playing with some backup guys, too. That was an audible. Fitz audibled to that when he saw the coverage. We had an off-tackle play or that throw and Fitz saw the coverage, saw the free safety cheated over to Stevie [Johnson] and made a great throw into the wind.”
The catch was a career long for Graham, the rookie third-round pick out of N.C. State.