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Bills corner market on secondary injuries

The Buffalo Bills' secondary could have a much different look when they meet the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Bills coach Dick Jauron confirmed the obvious that cornerback Terrence McGee will miss his second straight game with a sprained knee. Meanwhile, cornerback Ashton Youboty is very questionable after being limited in practice the last two days.

Youboty has been dealing with an achy foot that kept him out of a couple of practices during the bye week. He'll likely be a game-time decision on Sunday.

"He's just sore," Jauron said of Youboty. "He does individual work and is very limited in team and in the [scout team] stuff. We were just trying to get him through it. We'll have to see how that thing feels at game time."

If Youboty can't play, the Bills' secondary will be short-handed against one of the best pass offenses in the NFL. Veteran starter Jabari Greer and rookies Leodis McKelvin and Reggie Corner are the team's only healthy corners. McKelvin is expected to start in McGee's spot.

The good news for the Bills is versatile strong safety Donte Whitner has experience playing cornerback against slot receivers. Whitner also is expected to play some at free safety with starter Ko Simpson slowed by a tight hamstring. Reserve safeties Bryan Scott and George Wilson could see some playing time as well.

"I'm going to be in a lot of different roles: nickel, free safety, strong safety," Whitner said. "You'll see a variation of different places I'll line up out there and I accept the challenge, I welcome it."

Two other question marks for Sunday are defensive end Aaron Schobel and center Melvin Fowler. Schobel hasn't practice all week because of an ailing left foot. Fowler has been sidelined the last two days with a sore elbow.

Both will be game-time decisions, though Schobel is less likely to play than Fowler.

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Darren Sproles is only 5-foot-6 and 181 pounds, but he could have a big impact for the Chargers on Sunday. He is third in the NFL with a 30.4-yard average on kickoff returns, including a 103-yard touchdown. He's also averages 14.3 yards on punt returns, fourth in the league.

"He runs like he's 220 pounds," Bills linebacker John DiGiorgio said. "He's strong and has a quick burst. Being so small he's hard to see and he has that natural leverage being so low to the ground that makes him hard to tackle. You have to make sure you don't create any big creases out there because he shows on film that when he sees that crease he explodes 100 miles per hour through there. We have to get 11 hats around the ball to try and bring him down."

Sproles has been limited in practice this week by a sore ankle, but is expected to play Sunday. That could be bad news for the Bills' struggling coverage units, which are 27th covering kickoffs (25.6 yards) and 24th defending punts (12.1).

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Watching the Bills practice was owner Ralph Wilson, who celebrated his 90th birthday on Friday.

"He's lived a great life," wide receiver Lee Evans said. "He's seen a lot, he's very knowledgeable and he's still sharp."

Wilson also is good at dispensing good financial advice to his well-paid players.

"The day I signed my new contract we were on the phone and he congratulated me," Evans said. "We hung up and about five minutes later, [Jim] Overdorf comes running after me and said, 'Mr. Wilson is on the phone and he wants to talk to you again.' He just wanted to give me some advice on what to do with my money."

And what was that advice?

"Be very careful [about the stock market] because it's real ugly out here," Evans said. "He was very adamant about it. For him to call me back like that is just a sign of what kind of guy he is."

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The Chargers flew into Buffalo on Friday evening and practiced in the morning all week to get adjusted to the time change. West Coast teams are 0-6 this season in games in the Eastern time zone. Since 2002, West Coast teams are 27-65 when traveling to the East.

The Chargers lost at Miami two weeks ago, but are a respectable 11-10 in Eastern road games since 2002. One of those wins came at Buffalo in 2006.

The Chargers will stay on the road as they travel directly from Buffalo to London, England, where they'll play New Orleans next week.

"There is a challenge in terms of the time difference and making sure you get all your preparation work done," Chargers coach Norv Turner said. "But our team has traditionally played well on the East Coast. Our routine has worked well for us. We just have to make sure we do a great job through the week of getting our preparation done."

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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