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Rookie Ezekiel replaces Spikes on roster

Buffalo Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes officially was placed on the injured reserve list Wednesday.

Spikes underwent surgery to repair the torn Achilles tendon in his right leg Tuesday at the Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Ala. The surgery was performed under the direction of renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James R. Andrews.

"I told him he can keep our morale up and don't let it end at the halftime speech," said Bills coach Mike Mularkey, referring to the fact Spikes urged on his teammates during Sunday's Atlanta game. "He's probably more important now for us even though he's not on the field. We can sure use the support from him, and his teammates have so much respect for him."

With Spikes off the 53-man active list, the Bills promoted linebacker Liam Ezekiel from the practice squad. Ezekiel, 6-foot and 249 pounds, was among the final cuts by the Bills before the start of the regular season. He's an undrafted rookie out of Northeastern University who was a three-time Division I-AA All-American. Ezekiel was one of the strongest players at the NFL Scouting Combine in the spring. He lifted 225 pounds 36 times, the second-best total in the draft class.

The Bills added linebacker Wendell Hunter, another undrafted rookie who was in training camp, to the practice squad. Hunter went to the University of California.

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Receiver Roscoe Parrish still has a cast on his broken right wrist. Mularkey said Parrish is scheduled to have the wrist examined next Friday.

"It's getting around to that point to take another look at it, but he's still a couple of weeks away, at least two to three," Mularkey said.

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There still are 12,140 tickets left for Sunday's Bills-Saints game at the 65,000-seat Alamodome. San Antonio officials were hopeful Wednesday that the business community in the city would purchase the remaining seats to make the game a sellout.

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The Saints' secondary is banged up this week.

Starting strong safety Jay Bellamy is out for the season with a torn rotator cuff. Rookie Josh Bullocks, a second-round draft pick, will start at free safety Sunday, and Dwight Smith will shift over to strong safety.

Starting cornerback Fakhir Brown, who has missed the past two games with a sore knee, is questionable and did not practice. He would be replaced by Jason Craft. Also questionable and missing practice were receiver Joe Horn (hamstring) and kick returner Aaron Stecker (ankle). Four other Saints starters are questionable but practiced: Smith, defensive end Darren Howard, defensive tackle Brian Young and guard Jermane Mayberry.

Bills right tackle Mike Williams did not practice on his sprained ankle and is listed as questionable. Safety Coy Wire (thigh) also is questionable and did not practice. Tight end Tim Euhus (pectoral muscle) is questionable and did practice.

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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