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Marcellus Wiley always has been the kind of person who is asked one question and provides four answers, but he was on a roll Wednesday in the Buffalo Bills' locker room.

The man simply could not stop himself, even after his teammates started razzing him about going overboard. He argued with them briefly, took a deep breath, and returned to one of his favorite topics: Phil Hansen.

"I love Phil Hansen," Wiley said.

He wasn't kidding.

Question: Do you think Phil Hansen does not get the recognition he deserves because he has more well-known players like Bruce Smith and Ted Washington overshadowing him on the defensive line?

Answer: "That's not why. He doesn't dance after he makes good plays, so no one focuses on him. He makes great plays, but he walks away like it's second nature. I'm sure that's a piece of the pie.

"You know, Phil, he has a demeanor that's very professional. Past his play, people don't notice him because he doesn't do any extra stuff. He just goes out there and gives an honest, 100-percent effort. He's not a guy you see slapping and dancing and showboating.

"He's very consistent, a great technician. He gives great effort and makes plays constantly. He's so persistent and constant at such a high level that you don't notice. You just expect it."

It might have been a mouthful, but Wiley was correct on all counts.

Hansen is back playing as expected, consistent and without much flash and dash. He had three sacks last week against the Cincinnati Bengals and practically forgot about them Wednesday as the Bills prepared for their preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Let's not jump on the bandwagon," Hansen said. "It's PRE-season."

OK, so it wasn't the Super Bowl. But it was pretty impressive, especially considering he beat three different offensive linemen -- Brian DeMarco, Rich Braham and Matt O'Dwyer -- all of whom have been in the league for at least five years.

More important than the sack total was the fact Hansen has shown no signs of a knee injury that caused him to the miss the final game of the regular season and the playoff loss to Miami last season. He suffered a 40-percent tear of his medial collateral ligament, an injury that could have required surgery. He elected to rest the knee. So far, so good.

"I can't say it feels like the other one, but it hasn't given me one bit of problem in practice or a game," Hansen said. "It hasn't swelled up. It's a non-factor."

It certainly wasn't a factor Saturday night against the Bengals. His first sack came when he ran around DeMarco off the left end, cut back into the pocket and smothered Jeff Blake. The other two came off stunts while he was lined up at defensive tackle in the Bills' dime coverage.

"Let me tell you what the deal was with the three sacks," Hansen said. "You bust your behind all the time, and sometimes you get in the game where things fall in your lap. Everything was working, everything was clicking. I've had much better games where I've never had a sack. Sometimes, they come in bunches."

They have never come in bunches for Hansen during the regular season. But like Wiley said, Hansen's career is about consistency, technique and hard work. And the numbers have slowly piled up over the last eight years, even if the recognition has not.

Hansen has never had more than 10 sacks in any single season, and perhaps that's why he has been ignored by his peers when voting for the Pro Bowl. Slowly, he compiled 50 1/2 sacks and has drawn 2 1/2 from moving past Cornelius Bennett and into second place behind Smith on the all-time list. The NFL began keeping the statistic in 1982.

"It's the whole underrated thing," Bills coach Wade Phillips said. "It's always going to be his handle, although I think he's poised to have a good year this year. You could see his play on the field."

Why would this year be any different? Hansen has averaged 113 tackles over the last four seasons, more than any other player on Buffalo's roster. He had 132 tackles in 1996, more than any other defensive lineman in Bills' history.

Were it not for the injury, Hansen would have joined Darryl Talley as the only two players in team history to record at least 100 tackles in four consecutive seasons. He finished with 98 in 14-plus games.

"I think I'm appreciated around the Bills locker room by my teammates, coaches and management," Hansen said. "They've treated me nothing but good. The fans here are great. I give them an honest day's work, and it's just worked out good. It's been a good marriage."
Guard Joe Panos was held out of practice Wednesday and could miss the Pittsburgh game after suffering from a series of stingers.

Panos underwent MRI examinations after complaining about pain in his neck. Phillips said the guard did not believe the problem was serious but was unsure whether he would play against the Steelers.

"He's had some (stingers), so we're going to rest him a little bit and give him some treatment," Phillips said. "We're on top of it. We just wanted to give him some rest."

A stinger, described as "plexus trauma to the neck," usually causes numbness to a player's extremities.

Jamie Nails and Dusty Zeigler would likely alternate should Panos not be able to play Saturday. Nails is listed as the backup. Zeigler, a guard at Notre Dame, started at center last year before being replaced in training camp this year by Jerry Ostroski.
Smith missed practice for the second straight day while attending to his father, who is in a Virginia hospital. Smith is expected to return today.

Phillips gave receiver Andre Reed the day off from practicing in pads. Reed was on the field with the rest of the team. Others who missed practice were linebacker Dan Brandenburg (ankle) and running back Lennox Gordon (ankle).

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