Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Sean Moran underwent surgery Sunday to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in his left knee in Saturday's season-ending loss in Green Bay.
Although the Bills have not given any specifics, Moran is likely to require a lengthy healing period. His status for next season could be in jeopardy, which would raise doubts about whether the Bills would be able to continue to run their 4-3 defense.
Moran was hurt in the second quarter when, while chasing quarterback Brett Favre, his knee hit the helmet of defensive end Phil Hansen.
The Bills' quarterback situation also took yet another interesting twist Sunday when Alex Van Pelt revealed that he will have major surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder on Jan. 2.
After the Bills' final team meeting of the season at Rich Stadium, Van Pelt said the operation was needed to repair damage suffered when the shoulder was separated during the July 26 preseason opener in Denver. Van Pelt missed the rest of the preseason, but returned to serve as the Bills' No. 3 quarterback for the first six games of the season, then made three starts in place of Todd Collins, including Saturday's 31-21 season-ending loss in Green Bay.
Van Pelt said he did not have the surgery right after he was injured so that he would be available to play in the regular season.
"I had a third-degree separation, and my clavicle doesn't sit in the AC joint; it just rides up on top right now," he said. "So he (team physician Dr. John Marzo) is going to shave it down, hit it down, and tack it back in to place."
Defensive end Bruce Smith has said he will need arthroscopic surgery on both knees in the offseason, and oft-injured linebacker John Holecek faces ankle surgery.
Linebacker Damien Covington said he is progressing well from the season-ending stretched peroneal nerve he suffered in his left knee in practice on Oct. 30.
Covington said the problem leaves his left foot "a little weak" and causes a condition known as drop-foot.
"The sensation is starting to come back around, and it's getting better," Covington said. "It's correcting itself right now. It'll come around, and I'll be right back in it come minicamp."
The Bills' 1998 home and away regular-season opponents have been determined.
Besides their four AFC East rivals, the Bills will also play Oakland, Jacksonville, St. Louis and San Francisco at home. Their non-division road games will be against San Diego, Cincinnati, Carolina and New Orleans. Dates will be announced in the spring.