Joe Panos may not be in the starting lineup because of his ailing neck and right shoulder when the Buffalo Bills open the regular season next Sunday in Indianapolis.
The veteran right guard missed most of last week's practice because of what was believed to be a stinger. However, Panos told reporters an examination by a specialist at Johns Hopkins Hospital revealed a bulging disk.
That contradicts Bills coach Wade Phillips, who expects Panos to be in the lineup for the opener.
"Joe Panos was looked at by our doctors and was looked at by a specialist at Johns Hopkins," Phillips said. "It looks like he's going to play. They are going to monitor it, but there's no danger."
The Bills hope rest will solve the problem, but Panos said surgery is not out of the question.
Panos, a former free agent from Philadelphia, missed all four preseason games last year with a sprained knee. He recovered in time to start every game during the regular season.
Panos' place in the starting lineup Saturday was taken by Dusty Zeigler.
Outside linebacker Dan Brandenburg missed his second straight game with a sprained ankle. His status for the opener is undetermined.
Other inactives were running back Lennox Gordon (ankle), punter Bill Kushner (leg) and defensive end Bruce Smith, who is back home in Virginia with his ailing father.
The Bills are one of several teams in the running for cornerback Darryll Lewis, who is expected to be cut by the Tennessee Titans.
An NFL source in Tennessee said Lewis could be released as early as today. The source also indicated the Bills are among the teams who have contacted the Titans about Lewis' availability.
Lewis is entering his ninth season in the NFL, all with the Titans and former Houston Oilers.
The game wasn't the only thing on display Saturday night. Fans got their first look at the newly renovated Ralph Wilson Stadium, which underwent $53 million in improvements.
The changes include 76 dugout suites, which sit atop the lower bowl 40 rows from the field and encircle the stadium. This is in addition to the 88 existing club suites that surround the stadium. There are also new red-zone, goal line and sideline club seats. Ticket-holders in the sideline club seats have access to a new club-level concourse featuring an upscale lounge and restaurant area. Aluminum seats in the lower bowl have been replaced by more comfortable plastic chairs.
As if the stadium wasn't loud enough, a new state-of-the-art sound system has been mounted on two of the four new restroom towers. The volume will be adjusted based on crowd noise. Stadium lighting has been upgraded as well.
All the changes have reduced capacity from 80,024 to 75,339.
Still to come is a new 75,000 square-foot training center and team operations facility that will be attached to the north side of the Ralph Wilson Fieldhouse. It will include administrative offices, a new locker room and an athletic training and rehabilitation area.
Buffalo and Pittsburgh represent two of the winningest NFL teams in the 1990s. The Bills have seven 10-win seasons this decade, tying them with the Dallas Cowboys for second in the NFL. The Bills are fourth in winning percentage at .639 (92-52). The Steelers are fifth in 10-win seasons (five) and winning percentage (87-57, .605).
Preseason games in September are rare, but the Bills aren't new to them. They have played in September 19 times over 187 exhibition contests. The last time was a 36-17 loss to Atlanta in Jacksonville in 1989.
The lastest the Bills have ever played a preseason game was Sept. 12, 1970, at Green Bay.