Screwed thumb and without Cowart

Left end Bryce Fisher had a screw inserted in his thumb. He'll be fitted for a soft cast and will be able to play against the Colts Sunday . . . The Bills have not yet decided whether they will put Sam Cowart on Injured Reserve. Last Monday, Gregg Williams said Cowart would not have to have surgery on his partially torn right Achilles' heel. On Thursday, however, Cowart did have surgery. Inside sources say . . .

 the Bills got a second opinion and decided that it was best for Cowart to repair the tendon instead of having it heal and risking a worse injury upon a rushed return. Besides, with the league expected to cut down to one Wild Card team per conference, Buffalo's chances at the playoffs basically rely on winning the division. And that doesn't seem to be too realistic, judging from the 24-6 New Orleans debacle and the loss of Cowart . . .

Gregg Williams and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray will implement more situational defenses to compensate for Cowart's loss. There has been talk of platooning second-year man Kenyatta Wright with rookie Brandon Spoon, but I don't think Spoon's ready to contribute just yet. I expect Buffalo to have Wright play on first down. If Buffalo holds the opponent to a second and long (more than seven yards), it'll go to a nickel package – with Jay Foreman switched to middle linebacker, Keith Newman at his typical strongside position, plus five defensive backs. Perhaps during that down it might also give nose tackle Pat Williams a rest by bringing Phil Hansen inside at weakside tackle and putting Bryce Fisher at left end.

On third and long, look for Buffalo to implement its dime, taking out Newman for an additional defensive back and going to a three-man front featuring as much speed as makes sense: Bryce Fisher at left end, Williams at nose and Erik Flowers at right end.

If Buffalo finds itself in a lot of second and short situations, Gregg Williams may contemplate switching Wright for Spoon, but don't count on it just yet . . .

Buffalo's defensive line rotation for now looks like Fisher for Hansen, Leif Larsen for Shawn Price and rookie Aaron Schobel for Erik Flowers. Williams doesn't really have someone to sub in for him except for when Buffalo goes to a four-man front and Price and Hansen play over the guards. Buffalo was counting on rookie Ron Edwards to be that sub for Williams, but he has a lot more to learn.


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