Mike Pucillo went into training camp as the Buffalo Bills' starting left guard. He left as a backup.
Not much has gone right for Pucillo since losing his job to unheralded free agent Lawrence Smith. Pucillo's only action this season came in a cameo appearance Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.
In fact, Pucillo has gotten less playing time on offense than reserve defensive tackle Justin Bannan, who had a featured role as a pulling left guard on running plays against the Cardinals.
"I think the coaches feel like Bannan is athletic and does some things well that they wanted to try out," Pucillo said. "I don't think it's a message. It's just something they're trying out."
The idea of being a bench warmer doesn't appeal to Pucillo, who started 11 games at right guard last year.
"Of course it's really depressing because I want to be out there," said Pucillo, a seventh-round draft pick in 2002. "But the situation is what it is. You've got to stay positive. You've got to just come in here and try to help the team any way you can in a backup role and be ready to play when the chance occurs."
When Bills offensive line coach Jim McNally handed Pucillo the left guard spot, he told Pucillo the job was his until he loses it. It didn't take long.
Pucillo struggled badly, especially in pass protection, in the Bills' scrimmage against the Cleveland Browns and the first preseason game against the Denver Broncos.
There was even some speculation that Pucillo might be cut at the end of the preseason.
The Bills haven't totally given up on Pucillo. They still see him as a valued backup because of his experience.
Pucillo hasn't lost hope, either. He thinks he's capable of being an effective player in the NFL. He's just waiting for a chance to prove it.
"If I need to go in the game I feel real confident that I can get the job done," he said. "I don't think the offense will have to change anything if I'm in there. In this league you have to be patient. I'll keep doing what the coaches want me to do and be ready to help the team any way I can."
The Bills avoided a second straight television blackout by selling the remaining tickets for Sunday's game before Thursday's 1 p.m. deadline.
These are frustrating times for rookie quarterback J.P. Losman.
The Bills' first-round draft pick has been recovering from the broken fibula he suffered three weeks into training camp. But he sounded pessimistic about the progress he's made after experiencing some pain in his left leg recently.
"Every time I say I'm doing good I go out there and it hurts," Losman said. "I didn't say anything this week, so I'm going to see if that strategy works."
Losman has practiced the past four weeks, though he's been limited to work on the scout team. He admitted that he's still struggling with his mobility in the pocket, which is one of his strengths.
"Yeah, escaping is still a problem," he said. "It's frustrating. This is my first year and I don't want to go through the whole year and say I was hurt all season."
Losman has suited up as the Bills' third quarterback the last two games. Coach Mike Mularkey said Losman isn't ready to play yet and would only be used in an emergency situation during a game.
Mularkey thinks Losman is close to returning to full strength and hopes to get him more involved next week.
Rookie defensive end Constantin Ritzmann was added to the Bills' injury list as doubtful for Sunday's game against the New York Jets. The undrafted free agent hurt his right foot during practice Wednesday and was on crutches at Thursday's workout.
Wide receiver Josh Reed (knee) and strong safety Coy Wire (abdomen) were held out of practice again Thursday. Reed seems certain to miss Sunday's game, though he and Wire remain questionable.
Cornerback Troy Vincent (knee) and center Trey Teague practiced again Thursday, increasing their chances of playing Sunday. Both are questionable.
The Bills' depleted receiving corps got some good news Thursday as Drew Haddad participated in practice. He's still questionable, but showed no ill effects of his sore hamstring.
Meanwhile, the Jets could get starting right guard Brandon Moore (hamstring) back after he was upgraded to probable. Wide receiver Wayne Chrebet didn't practice, but he's still probable. Linebacker Sam Cowart, although listed as probable, will be a game-time decision.