The Buffalo Bills have two young, dangerous weapons that could return kicks against the Vikings, who have allowed a few long returns in the last month.
Coach Chan Gailey has a pleasant problem on his hands: deciding who returns kickoffs and punts.
Cornerback Leodis McKelvin
, to nobody's surprise, has filled in admirably on kickoff returns with rookie running back C.J. Spiller
sidelined two games with a hamstring injury. Spiller is expected back for this week's game at Minnesota.
McKelvin is among Buffalo's career kick return leaders but lost that role to Spiller this season coming out of training camp. That's because the Bills were reluctant to throw McKelvin, who was coming off a broken leg suffered in 2009, back in the high-risk fray right away and they were eager to test drive Spiller, their No. 1 pick.
Spiller has averaged a healthy 25.4 yards on 30 returns with one TD. McKelvin has averaged 23.0 yards on 10 returns in his place, including a stellar outing last Sunday against Pittsburgh.
Against the Steelers, McKelvin averaged 36.4 yards on five returns, including a 49-yarder to start overtime that McKelvin just missed taking all the way to the end zone. McKelvin's legs got tangled up with teammate Arthur Moats
"Once I see a lane, I'm going to burst through it and I was in the open field," McKelvin said. "I got past that first wave and it was just me, Moats and the safety guy. I was going towards him (Moats) to try and cut up and I ended up tripping over his feet. Just bad luck."
Sitting McKelvin on kickoffs isn't an easy decision when Spiller returns. McKelvin's 27.15 career average is third in club history behind O.J. Simpson (30.0) and Wallace Francis (27.33). He passed Charley Warner (1,792) for fifth place on the all-time yardage list with 1,819.
"We'll see," Gailey said. "Leodis is playing a lot of corner right now. He's playing a lot of defense. He's earned the right. He's obviously a great returner, but we've got to be smart about how we handle all those guys.
"Maybe we're smart with C.J. not putting him out there to run those kinds of things the first week back from a hamstring, too. So there's a lot of things to consider going into this ballgame."
Gailey knows he's got a pleasant problem.
"Yeah, there are some people (coaches) that are choosing between guys that can't return. At least we're choosing between two guys that are good."
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's 65-yard TD pass to Fred Jackson against Pittsburgh gave him touchdown passes in 12 consecutive games, most by a Bills QB since Doug Flutie strung 12 games together in 1999. Fitzpatrick's 19 TD passes has far surpassed his previous career high for a season, nine set last year.
RB Fred Jackson caught five passes for a career-high 104 yards and one TD in Sunday's OT loss to Pittsburgh. The Bills spread the ball out against the NFL's No. 1 defense and were effective doing so. Jackson, who went over 1,000 yards receiving for his career, became the first Bills back to top 100 yards receiving in a game since Tim Tindale in 1997 vs. the Jets.
RB C.J. Spiller, who has missed two games with a hamstring injury, is expected to play this week at Minnesota. He'll be eased back into the lineup coming off his injury so his playing time could be limited.
TE David Martin did not catch a pass in Sunday's OT loss to Pittsburgh. He has four catches for 30 yards and one TD.
WR Steve Johnson was the target of 15 passes by QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in Sunday's OT loss to Pittsburgh. He caught seven for 68 yards but also had five dropped balls. One was in the end zone that could've won the game in OT. Fitzpatrick said he would keep throwing to the third-year pro to help him get his confidence back. Johnson needs just two TD catches to tie the team single-season record.
WR Donald Jones, a rookie free agent out of Youngstown State, is making the most of his playing time with Roscoe Parrish (IR) out for the year. Jones caught six passes for 58 yards against Pittsburgh to establish single-game highs. Three of his catches resulted in third downs.
OG Eric Wood, who missed Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh with an ankle injury, remains day-to-day. Coach Chan Gailey said his status for Minnesota will be gauged as the week progresses but Wood has a chance of playing.
DE Dwan Edwards is a candidate to go in season-ending injured reserve with a severe hamstring injury. Coach Chan Gailey said Edwards would be out "a while" and with just six games to play, the Bills may not want to hold his roster spot.
DE Spencer Johnson is expected to play this Sunday at Minnesota. He's been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
OLB Reggie Torbor suffered a shoulder injury in Sunday's OT loss to Pittsburgh. He was scheduled for more tests early in the week and his status for this week's game at Minnesota is undetermined.
CB Terrence McGee, who has missed six games this year with injuries, is undergoing more testing on his bothersome knee condition. McGee has surgery earlier this year for a nerve problem behind his knee. He played two games and seemed to be on his way back but suffered a setback last week and did not play against Pittsburgh.
PK Rian Lindell, who has struggled with five field goal misses, was a perfect 3-for-3 against Pittsburgh, including a 49-yarder in windy conditions that sent the game into overtime with :02 left in regulation. Lindell has scored in 27 consecutive games.
P Brian Moorman will play in his 156th game as a Bill this week at Minnesota, tying Pete Metezelaars and Phil Hansen for 16th place on the team's participation list. Among punters, only Chris Mohr (159 games) has played more games.