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PANOS COULD FACE SURGERY IF NEXT TREATMENT FAILS

The return of guard Joe Panos to the Buffalo Bills' lineup has been delayed again, and his season may be in jeopardy.

Panos will receive another epidural injection this week to try to decrease swelling and relieve pain around the bulging disk in his neck. He is out for another three weeks, coach Wade Phillips said. Panos already has missed the first three weeks of the season.

This is the third and last epidural injection he can receive this season. There is a limit to how many a person can get over a six-month period. So if it doesn't respond, he might have to face surgery on the disk. Panos said the third injection was needed because there has been no progress since the last one a couple of weeks ago.

Dusty Zeigler will continue to start in Panos' right guard spot.

The Bills don't expect to know for a couple of days whether they will have left guard Ruben Brown in the lineup against Miami on Monday night.

He appears to be questionable at best due to a strained hamstring he suffered in the win over Philadelphia on Sunday.

"It's not a pull -- a four-week injury -- but it's a strain," Phillips said. "We'll have to see on him as the week progresses."

If Brown can't play, Jamie Nails will take his place.

Backup quarterback Rob Johnson had a headache Monday as a result of the mild concussion he received in the fourth quarter against the Eagles.

"He cleared up real quickly after the game and they think everything is fine," Phillips said.

Nevertheless, it's possible he might be held out of Monday's game as a precaution. Phillips said the fact Johnson had two mild concussions last year is not of particular concern. Each of Johnson's concussions has come as a result of a violent blow to the head. He hasn't had any problems after receiving normal hits.

Defensive end Phil Hansen said his bruised ribs were feeling much better Monday and should not be a problem for the Miami game.

Phillips praised the Bills' special teams for a third straight strong game.

"They've won the battle in all three games so far," Phillips said. "I'm really encouraged by the way they're playing. . . . The aggressiveness, the hits -- we had a lot of big hits in the game."

The Bills' average drive start in the win over Philadelphia was their own 41. The Eagles' average drive start was their 21.

"We had three punts inside the 15 Sunday and last week we had four inside the 20," Phillips said. "Steve Christie kicked four field goals and our coverage was outstanding."

Sean Moran had a huge hit on one kickoff return by the Eagles. He hit Allen Rossum at the 20 and forced a fumble, which the Eagles recovered.

"Sean Moran is back to where he was two years ago (before a knee injury), and he was a force on special teams two years ago," Phillips said. "You're talking about a 280-pound guy who runs down and hits a guy inside the 20-yard line when the ball wasn't kicked all the way to the goal line. That's running."

Phillips said he was intentionally conservative on the Bills three trips inside the Red Zone in the first quarter. Each time the Bills were held to field goals after running on first and second downs and unsuccessfully trying to pass on third down.

"I was a little conservative down there, and I wanted to be because I wanted to be ahead of Philadelphia," the coach said. "I didn't want to screw it up and have them make a play or get excited. . . . I thought it was the way to win the game. We did run it twice and then throw. That's conservative."

Phillips isn't thrilled about the fact Miami got a bye week before playing his club.

"It is an advantage," he said. "You're off for a week and resting your players and getting everybody healthy."

The Bills will have an extra day of practice this week. They are off today but return to work Wednesday. They will hold normal, full practices Thursday and Friday and a walk-through on Saturday.

Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek attended his first NFL game Sunday and undoubtedly found the sport familiar -- since he witnessed a shutout. He was in the locker room after the game with his son, Michael, and Sabre teammate Dixon Ward.

Upon seeing Hasek, Pat Williams, the Bills' 6-foot-3, 310-pound nose tackle, asked, "You can play goalie when you're that small?"

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