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HENRY KNEW FORECAST WOULD STAY GLOOMY

When the Buffalo Bills hold their first mandatory spring minicamp this weekend, running back Travis Henry won't be there.

Henry reiterated Wednesday he is still committed to seeking a trade and has no plans to attend the upcoming minicamp or any of the team's offseason workouts.

Henry was hoping he would be traded during the draft. But when the draft passed he was still a member of the Bills. He had prepared himself for this worst-case scenario, so he wasn't surprised no deal was made.

"It was disappointing," Henry said by phone from his home in Orlando, Fla. "But I'm doing fine. I'm keeping my head up. Everything will work itself out."

Henry's pending absence from minicamp is no surprise. He has been very clear that he no longer wants to play for the Bills. He is looking for a team that will give him a chance to be a starter. Willis McGahee is entrenched as the Bills' featured back.

The Bills have tried to grant Henry's wishes, but they have yet to receive what they consider an acceptable offer.

At least four teams -- the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles -- were known to have inquired about Henry. Each of them drafted running backs. Overall, 23 running backs were selected last weekend.

The depth of this year's draft class and the fact that two high-profile veteran runners -- Edgerrin James of Indianapolis and Shaun Alexander of Seattle -- are on the trading block means the Bills' trade options are somewhat limited.

Henry's agent, Hadley Engelhard, remains optimistic a deal will happen.

"We still are confident that a trade will come to fruition," Engelhard said. "We are still working diligently at the process and moving forward."

The Eagles at least raised the possibility of continuing their pursuit of Henry. There is speculation the Eagles are using Henry to coax young veteran starter Brian Westbrook into signing a long-term contract. Westbrook, a restricted free agent, has been offered a one-year, $1.43 million tender offer, which he hasn't signed.

But Philadelphia is concerned about Westbrook's durability as an every-down back. Although the Eagles drafted Louisiana Tech's Ryan Moats, who had a productive college career, it's uncertain whether the 5-foot-8, 210-pounder is big enough to be a heavy-duty back in the NFL.

Henry is a proven workhorse, having rushed for more than 1,300 yards twice and totaling 3,849 yards on 963 carries (4.0 average) with 27 touchdowns during his four-year Bills career.

Given Henry's production, the lukewarm interest in him is puzzling to Bills President and General Manager Tom Donahoe.

"It's amazing to me that backs like Edgerrin James, Shaun Alexander and Travis Henry are available and that nobody is trying to be very aggressive to get any of those players," Donahoe said after the draft. "I don't know why."

Donahoe added that he hasn't given up on trying to work out a trade. In the meantime, Henry will stay home and wait for something to happen.

"I just want to go on with my career," he said. "There is a dark cloud right now, but I know the sun is going to shine on me eventually."
e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

Bills photograph on Picture Page. C10