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FLUTIE BACK RUNNING WITH THE NO. 2 OFFENSE IN PRACTICE

Doug Flutie is back, officially, as the backup quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.

After spending the first three weeks of the season as the third-string quarterback because of a groin injury, Flutie has moved ahead of Alex Van Pelt on the depth chart.

Flutie began working with the second-team offense last week, and his workload will likely increase this week as the Bills prepare for Sunday's AFC East showdown against the Indianapolis Colts at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

It's not like being the starter, but it's better than what he's been doing.

"Sitting around and watching (during games) is tougher than being involved in practice," Flutie said. "You feel like you're on the outside looking in all the time. You take for granted being able to run around and throw, so it's nice to be back."

Flutie feels he's beginning to shake off the rust and getting his timing with receivers again.

"Last week, I got a good share of snaps in practice," he said. "It felt like the first week in training camp a little bit. You're a fraction of a second later than you want to be on the throw. You're seeing everything, but you're thinking a little bit too much. (Monday) was night and day from last week already for me. I think I've played long enough that it won't be an issue."

Flutie was scheduled to have a follow-up magnetic resonance imaging examination Tuesday to make sure his groin has completely healed.

But Flutie and the Bills don't anticipate any problems.

"I don't think we'll see anything different than the last one," Flutie said. "The last MRI everything was pretty solid. I guess the final test on whether I'm activated or not will be the MRI. I don't know."
Flutie made an appearance at Black Rock Academy as part of a program to encourage kids to read.

The appearance was perfect timing for Flutie, who has authored a book titled, "Never Say Never." The book is a first-person account of his childhood and how he overcame numerous obstacles to become a professional football player.

He also discusses his son's autism. A portion of the proceeds from the book will go to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism.

While running back Antowain Smith has been critical of how he was used on offense, Jonathan Linton is taking a more diplomatic approach.

Smith, who was benched in favor of Linton, didn't think he got enough carries to show what he could do. Linton said "it would be nice" to get a lot of carries Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, but knows that might not happen.

"We got some good backs back there also that need to carry the ball as well," he said. "I think in our scheme we have a lot of people that can fit in different places and get the job done. I'm not worried about (getting carries). It's one of those things I can't control, and I'm not going to worry about things I can't control. Whether I carry the ball one time or 50 times, I still got to produce. That's what they put me out there for."
The Bills aren't replacing struggling return specialist Chris Watson, but they are giving him some help. Shawn Bryson will return kickoffs along with Watson. The team hopes Bryson's natural running skills and speed will provide a spark. The Bills rank 29th in the NFL in kickoff return average.

The Bills also will have place-kicker Steve Christie emphasize height rather than distance on kickoffs. Perhaps they feel better hang time will lead to better coverage. The Bills are giving up 35.7 yards on kickoff returns, last in the league.
Phillips was asked if it is hard for a team like the Colts who had a game on Monday night to come back and play the following Sunday.

"It wasn't hard for the Jets, it didn't seem like," said Phillips, whose team lost last Sunday to the Jets, who were coming off a Monday night game.

"Monday night's a big game, but as long was you don't get anybody banged up, you can come back and play the next week. I think that's been proven. We've proven it and other teams after Monday night have played well. I think it's a little overdone that you're not going to be able to play (after a Monday night game). I think it is a little tougher to play on Monday night than play on the road."
Despite having the week off, the Bills now have the top-rated defense in the AFC and are No. 2 in the NFL. They were second in the AFC and fifth in the league going into the bye week.

Buffalo's run defense jumped from third to second in the NFL. The Bills' pass defense dropped a spot to No. 3, but it remains at No. 7 league-wide.
The Bills have one of the NFL's best records in games after bye weeks since they were added to the schedule in 1990.

The Bills are 9-2 following bye weeks (6-2 at home, 3-0 on the road). They also are successful in games before the off week, going 8-4.
The Bills are unbeaten since 1988 in their fourth game of the regular season, going 12-0. Seven of those wins came at home.

Their last Game Four loss came during the players' strike in 1987 when the replacement Bills dropped a 14-7 decision to New England.
A sellout for Sunday's game appears imminent as the Bills report that only single tickets remain. The contest must be sold out 48 hours (1 p.m. Thursday) prior to kickoff for it to be seen on local television.

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