The Buffalo Bills are at risk of becoming the first team in the NFL to have a home game blacked out in the local television market.
About 7,000 tickets for Sunday’s game against Cincinnati still remained Wednesday. No NFL game through the first five weeks was blacked out. Last season there were a total of 15 blackouts, out of 256 regular-season games. The Bills had two of those blacked-out games in 2012.
The team announced Wednesday it was offering a discount of up to $15 in an online sale for tickets for Sunday’s game. The Bills have until 1 p.m. today to sell out in time for the local TV blackout to be lifted. The Bills have talked to the NFL about getting an extension of that deadline, team President Russ Brandon said. However, the team needs to be close enough to selling out to make an extension worthwhile. If the Bills get close enough to a sellout, within a couple thousand, they typically can strike a deal with an advertiser or television station to buy the remaining tickets.
There are about 7,500 tickets left for the home game against Kansas City on Nov. 3. There were more than 10,000 tickets left for the final two home games, the Bills reported last week. Those are Nov. 17 against the Jets and Dec. 22 against Miami.
Bills punter Brian Moorman owes rookie quarterback Jeff Tuel a nice dinner. But as far as compensation to Tuel goes for him handing over jersey No. 8 to Moorman upon his return this week, that’s the only payment that will take place. Tuel has switched to No. 7.
“I didn’t really have to think much about it,” Tuel said. “The things Brian has done here are tremendous, the Pro Bowls and all that. He deserves the number. If he wants his number here, then I’m going to give him it. He’s done a hell of a lot more here than I have, so in my eyes he deserved it.”
Tuel wore No. 10 in high school and college, so he didn’t have much of an emotional attachment to No. 8. Moorman, however, does and admitted seeing Tuel on the sideline in No. 8 looked “weird.”
“It was really nice of him,” Moorman said. “It was just a simple ask and he said, ‘of course, it’s yours.’ We’ll go out to a nice dinner or something. I’ll take care of him one way or the other. You can tell he’s just a good guy. I’m grateful. Obviously, it would have been awful strange walking on the field with a different number.”
Moorman wore the No. 8 during his first 11-plus seasons with the Bills, from 2001 to 2012.
Bills receiver Stevie Johnson, who has a sore back, was excused from practice Wednesday due to a death in the family. He’s expected back later in the week, coach Doug Marrone said.
The Bills could be getting reinforcements. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore (hand), receiver Marquise Goodwin (hand) and cornerback Ron Brooks (foot) all returned to practice on a limited basis.
Goodwin, injured in the season opener, looked good running routes during the start of practice.
Asked about the prospect of getting the speedster back, Marrone said: “Fired up. You get a guy back there like that, I’ve always said that when he’s on the field, he looks fast and he’s had some time to rest. He kept himself in great shape; he ran a lot today and ran extremely well.”
Gilmore got the pins from his broken hand out this week. Marrone sounded upbeat about the cornerback’s chances of seeing some action.
“I think Gilmore I feel good about, but I still don’t want to go out there and say, ‘Yeah, he’s going to play Sunday,’ ” the coach said.
Asked if the hand hurt, Gilmore said: “Just a little bit, but it isn’t anything that hurts that bad. The main thing is trying to get my legs back. Backpedaling, turning, running and finding the ball, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Also limited were C.J. Spiller (ankle), Kyle Williams (leg) and Marcus Easley (ribs).
For the Bengals, starting defensive end Michael Johnson (concussion) did not practice. Bengals starters who were limited were right tackle Andre Smith (shoulder) and cornerback Leon Hall (hamstring).
The Bills signed cornerback Johnny Adams to the practice squad. Adams started the season on the Bills’ practice squad, was promoted to the active roster and played in four games, then was released earlier this week.