The Buffalo Bills plan to substitute liberally during Sunday's regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins.
This is not surprising since the Bills already have clinched the AFC Eastern Division championship and home-field advantage in the playoffs. A win or a loss won't help or hinder their post-season chances.
The Redskins' incentive might also be diminished if Philadelphia beats Phoenix Saturday, thereby edging the Redskins for the home-field advantage in a wild card playoff game.
"We're going to play everybody who's medically able to play," Bills coach Marv Levy said Wednesday. "If somebody (from the team's medical staff) says, 'Well, this guy could play but he's going to play hurting,' we would hold him out. But there's nobody in that category right now."
And that includes the six players on the Bills' injured list -- offensive linemen John Davis (knee and back, questionable), Jim Ritcher (ankle, probable) and Will Wolford (knee, probable); running back Thurman Thomas (lower back, probable), linebacker Ray Bentley (shoulder, questionable), and defensive end Bruce Smith (knee, probable).
One player who is out is wide receiver Don Beebe, who suffered a broken leg against Miami Sunday and has been placed on injured reserve. To replace him on the 47-man active roster, the team is expected to activate wide receiver Vernon Turner from their practice squad.
Al Edwards will replace Beebe as the Bills' No. 3 receiver, and continue to return punts. Turner will be the backup punt returner.
"We are not looking at the game in a
training-camp mode," Levy said of his team's approach to the Redskins. "We're going in with a specific and normal tactical approach to the game. The only difference will be is that we will use some of our backup players more, even though there might not be an injury, than we would do at other times.
"They (the starters) will be in and out and back in. But I think winning's important. It's a habit that you want to keep up. And if we win, we will at least share (with San Francisco at 14-2) the best record in the National Football League this year."
Still, one could expect to see plenty of players such as reserve running back Ken Davis. He and Thomas might wind up with an equal number of rushing attempts.
"He (Levy) hasn't really said one way or the other, but you, as a player, kind of sense that and realize it," Davis said.
Despite taking the field cold in the final minutes or just to spell Thomas, Davis has made a habit of having an impact right away. Against Miami, he played in the third quarter while Thomas was sidelined with back spasms and in the fourth, picking up 30 yards on eight carries.
"My incentive comes from just the excitement of wanting to do well," Davis said. "When Thurman is in there performing and the offensive line is performing, I don't want them to have any slack off on my behalf. It's not only a matter of pride, it's a matter of responsibility."
How about opportunity -- as in the chance to demonstrate he should play more here or somewhere else? Davis shook his head.
"It's not a matter of going out there and trying to prove anything," he said. "I feel great here. I don't have any complaints at all.
"You have to look at the guy who's in front of you, and he's an exceptional athlete. You can't knock it, it's cut and dried, so accept it, go on and be humble."
To reduce the risk of injury to quarterback Frank Reich while still giving him needed experience, Levy probably will use Jim Kelly's replacement for three quarters before allowing third-stringer Gale Gilbert to finish the game.