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COWART LANDS ON INJURED RESERVE; OFFENSIVE LINE LOSING BODIES

The Buffalo Bills placed linebacker Sam Cowart on injured reserve Wednesday, ending his season. The team will weigh its options before deciding how to replace him on the active roster.

The Bills could use another backup on the offensive line and at linebacker in the wake of injuries suffered in the past week.

"We have some other injuries, and we may have to see how we get through this week before we determine what we want to do," Bills President and General Manager Tom Donahoe said.

In another move Wednesday, the Bills signed linebacker Junior Robinson to the practice squad and dropped practice-squad receiver Chris Taylor.

The Bills were down to just seven healthy offensive linemen in Wednesday's practice. Right tackle Jonas Jennings is listed as doubtful with a sore hip. Left tackle John Fina is questionable with a sore right knee and thigh. Neither practiced.

Also watching from the sidelines was receiver Eric Moulds, who is listed as questionable with a sprained shoulder.

"I'm shooting for him playing, and that's what he's talking about," said Bills coach Gregg Williams. "We'll see."

The Steelers have two key players who are questionable. Starting defensive end Kimo Von Oelhoffen has a sore ankle, and cornerback Chad Scott has a sore knee. Scott practiced Wednesday, Von Oelhoffen didn't.

Reserve tackle Kris Farris stands a good chance of starting against his former team with both starting tackles hobbling. Farris was a third-round pick of the Steelers in 1999 but never hit the field in the regular season due to a stress fracture in his foot. He was released before the 2000 season.

"It means a little more to me," Farris said of facing his old club. "It meant a lot in preseason and it will mean a lot this week. But it was a fortunate thing that it happened, because I ended up here which is a better place for me. But it's also a case where I don't think I got a fair shot and I want to prove myself."

Farris on his play in relief of Jennings in Indianapolis:

"Considering it was my first real action and being right tackle, which I'm not as comfortable with as left tackle, it was OK. You can never be satisfied in this league. It's something to work with and I can try to improve from there."

Steelers strong safety Lee Flowers on Rob Johnson:

"Rob is looking where he's throwing. The West Coast offense? What is that? Detroit is trying to run that and they're 0-2? They might have to throw the West Coast out."

Williams said simplifying the defense isn't really the solution to eliminating assignment errors that occurred in Indy.

"The things we were doing were about as simple as ABC coverages as you could have," Williams said. "Quarter, half-zone coverage, two-deep zone coverage, and just basic man-to-man coverage. Those are things we're going to play every week and we have to get better at playing them. We have to get better at playing our responsibilities. If we eliminate the big plays we'll play better on defense, we'll play all right."

Added defensive coordinator Jerry Gray: "The thing we have to do is not beat ourselves. We had guys out of position and biting on play fakes, and those kinds of things can't happen. We do it to ourselves. . . . We had guys lose vision of the receivers, and now they run by you. Why? It's not blitzing. We were in zones, something that's been done here for years. And yet guys are still coming wide open. . . . If we can get the 11 guys to do their job, I think you will see that we'll have a great team."

"One thing is we're not finishing the plays," Gray said. "We're getting hit, we're getting staggered, then we don't know what to do about that. We're a young team but I don't want them to use that as an excuse. There are no excuses."

A sign on the entrance to the Bills' locker room Monday: ATTITUDE. Blame/ No One/ Expect/ Nothing/ Do/ Something.

Peyton Manning's performance -- 23 of 29 for 421 yards -- was the fourth best completion percentage (79.3) ever against the Bills and the fifth best yardage day ever against the Bills. The record for passing yards in a game is 464 by George Blanda of Houston in 1961. . . . The Bills rank 31st in the league in defense this week and 14th on offense. . . . Sunday's game is a sellout. Ian Eagle and Solomon Wilcots will broadcast the game for CBS on Ch. 4.

The Bills' Jennings and Pittsburgh linebacker Kendrell Bell are among five Georgia Bulldog rookies starting in the NFL this season. The others are Jacksonville defensive tackle Marcus Stroud, New England defensive tackle Richard Seymour and Dallas quarterback Quincy Carter. Seymour and Stroud were first-rounders, Carter and Bell second-rounders and Jennings was a third-round pick.

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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