Rookie Brandon Spoon could be the starting middle linebacker when the Buffalo Bills meet the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday.
Spoon practiced extensively with the first-team defense during Friday's practice. Kenyatta Wright is still expected to get the majority of snaps Sunday, but Spoon is certain to get plenty of action, particularly on early downs.
Coach Gregg Williams didn't speak to the media Friday, but it is known that he likes Spoon's sturdiness against the run. That will come in handy Sunday against the Colts, who have arguably the game's best feature back in Edgerrin James.
"I'm very excited. It's something I've been looking forward to for a while," Spoon said. "This is a chance everybody wants. I just have to capitalize on it."
This will be Spoon's first NFL regular-season game. He missed the opener and most of the preseason with knee and hamstring injuries.
When healthy, he's shown the ability to make plays all over the field.
"I missed a lot of time in training camp, but I kept up with the mental game," he said. "Physically, there are always some adjustments you have to make. But the mental aspect of it is the key. You can't think. You have to react."
Spoon said no official decision has been made whether he or Wright will start, but he plans to be prepared either way.
"There's still no telling what's going to happen on Sunday," he said. "If the coaches make a game-time decision that I should be starting, that's fine. But I can't get caught in starting or not starting. If I play five plays or if I play 50, I've got to make every one of them count."
It would be understandable if the Bills were a little nervous about boarding an airplane bound for Indianapolis today. But many of the players said they are prepared to fly again in skies that were not so friendly 11 days ago.
"I think we're all going to have to get on a plane at some point, so it may as well be this weekend," said center Bill Conaty. "Some guys might feel nervous about it, but with the upgraded security I think everything will be fine."
Many of the players aren't too worried because the Bills travel on chartered flights with only team personnel.
However, if there is an intruder on board, at least one player is ready to take matters in his own hands.
"I wish someone would try and hijack our plane with box cutters and pocket knives while we're on it," said tight end Sheldon Jackson. "We'll take bottles of alcohol to their heads."
Bills tight end Dan O'Leary and Colts wide receiver Drew Haddad have been best friends since they were teammates at national high school power St. Ignatius in Cleveland.
But friendship will go out the window for three hours Sunday when the Bills and Colts square off.
O'Leary is the Bills' long snapper on punts. Haddad, the former University at Buffalo star and ex-Bills draft pick, made the Colts on the strength of his punt return ability. He scored a pair of touchdowns in the preseason.
Haddad was inactive in the Colts' opener, but O'Leary is hoping to get a few licks on his old buddy Sunday.
"I was talking smack to him all week while we were home last week," O'Leary said. "We were talking about trying to make each other look good, but I don't think that's going to happen. I'll lose my job if I do that."
O'Leary is disappointed Haddad didn't stick with the Bills, but he's not surprised Haddad kept fighting for a job in the NFL.
"I haven't seen a guy with as big a heart as he has," O'Leary said. "He was overlooked by a lot of colleges coming out of high school and he proved he could play at that level. Now he's doing it again in the pros."
The NFL Players Association and the NFL Management Council have reached an agreement on a revised pay schedule for players in the aftermath of the postponement of the Week Two games and their being rescheduled to Jan. 5-7.
Instead of being paid one-seventeenth of their base salaries -- 16 games plus the bye week -- players will be paid one-eighteenth of their salaries. The result will be full pay over 18 weeks rather than 17 weeks.