Injuries slam Bills early

Buffalo's win against Tampa Bay was costly. Brad Butler and Derek Schouman both went down with serious injuries. The Bills have replacements but may be forced to sign some free agents strictly from a depth standpoint.

The Bills were already fielding the most inexperienced offensive line in the league, and now it will be a little less experienced in the wake of Brad Butler's season-ending knee injury.

Butler was hurt late in the second quarter of Buffalo's 33-20 victory over Tampa Bay and coach Dick Jauron confirmed Monday that he's out for the year and will undergo surgery in the coming weeks. Butler had appeared to make a smooth transition from right guard to right tackle, fending off pressure from team's No. 2 defensive end. His loss could be a huge blow for the Bills, amid a string of injuries.

Jonathan Scott took over for Butler and filled in admirably, but Butler had 31 career NFL starts, Scott has six, all with the Detroit Lions who picked him in the fifth round of the 2006 draft.

Scott started four games as a rookie, two in 2007, and then was cut by the Lions at the end of the 2008 training camp. He was signed by the Bills in December but did not play, then spent the offseason in Buffalo and made the team coming out of training camp. His progress was one of the factors in the Bills' releasing Langston Walker.

Scott has come a long ways in a short period of time. He is a long player with quick feet.

"I thought he did a nice job," coach Dick Jauron said. "I tip my hat to Jonathan Scott. He's come in during the offseason last year, really just worked and worked and worked. Had a great attitude and earned a right to be on this team and there he is on the field. We're hoping the best for Brad, but we're glad we've got Jonathan."

The Bills might be forced to sign an offensive lineman in the wake of Butler's injury. They have only seven offensive linemen on the roster with the lone reserves being Seth McKinney and Kirk Chambers, and Chambers is the only backup tackle because McKinney is strictly an interior player. Depth must be a concern.

"We'll meet later (Monday) in the personnel area and go over the possibilities," said Jauron.

Among the tackles that are available are Walker and Jon Runyan. Walker is unlikely, and Runyan — who the team did work out before the season opener — is a high-mileage veteran coming off microfracture knee surgery. While he used to be one of the top pass blockers in the NFL, Runyan is probably best suited a run blocker at this stage of his career. Still, the hurting Bills must consider adding somebody at offensive tackle. Another injury would be extremely costly.

The personnel discussion won't be limited to offensive line. The Bills also lost two tight ends in the game, starter Derek Schouman to a knee injury and backup Shawn Nelson to a shoulder injury. Jauron wouldn't speculate on the severity of those ailments, and said only that they will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis as the week progresses. Schouman was having a knockout performance against Tampa Bay before going down.

At tight end the Bills can recall Jonathan Stupar from their practice squad, but they won't likely go into a game with just two tight ends. Derek Fine will get the start, and if Schouman or Nelson can't play, there will probably be a signing. They worked out three tight ends late last week -- Leonard Pope, Tony Curtis and Joe Klopfenstein. All three have a little NFL experience. Fine, a solid do-it-all tight end, should see the bulk of the snaps regardless. While he may not be as sure-handed of a receiver as Schouman, he's probably a better blocker.

All in all, like many teams, injuries are a concern. Buffalo may ink one of these tight ends soon simply out of necessity.

"The only thing I can say is if they're not available we might have to make some moves, but we're still evaluating their injuries and we won't know more before at least Wednesday and maybe beyond that," said Jauron.


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