Wide receiver Marcus Easley eagerly awaits Saturday's preseason opener against the Chicago Bears. After all, he hasn't played in a meaningful game since he left college.
After sitting out all of last season and most of this year's training camp with knee injuries, Easley, the Bills' fourth-round pick from Connecticut in 2010, is scheduled to make his pro debut in Chicago. Easley had surgery last summer to repair loose and torn cartilage on his left knee, then hyperextended the knee on the first day of training camp.
"I feel good, I felt really good [Wednesday]," Easley said. "I'm staying optimistic and hopefully I feel my best so I'm allowed to play this Saturday."
Bills coach Chan Gailey said Easley will "get his share."
"Everyone has a different share in this ball game," Gailey said. "He's going to get a decent number of reps, the thing we don't want to do is overextend him."
The Bills are high on the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Easley because of his size, speed and strength but none of those elements has been on display much because he hasn't been healthy.
"One thing about time is you can never get it back," he said. "I know I didn't have much time this training camp. I've just tried to make the most of the reps that I've had and try to do my part, and eliminate the mental errors and hopefully stay on top of my assignments."
He's tired of being an observer and seeks the chance to impress coaches. The Bills are deep at wide receiver but Easley believes his strengths will only add to the unit.
"We have Lee [Evans], who's the veteran and has been around long enough and he's kind of taken us under his wing, showing us the ropes, and helping us on and off the field," he said. "Then you have Stevie [Johnson]. He's an emerging superstar. Then along with the rest of the free agent rookies that came in with me, we're all learning and trying to contribute when necessary."
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Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said the biggest change in running back C.J. Spiller this year is his patience.
"It was easy at Clemson for him to hit a home run on every play, or least have the ability to," Fitzpatrick said. "He does here but he doesn't have to do that for us. Sometimes a 4-yard run is a very good play and some of that was watching Fred [Jackson] succeed last year and him being a year older. Just in terms of his understanding of the game and what we expect from him has definitely changed for the better."
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Torell Troup had his left hand heavily taped because of a cracked bone suffered Monday, but the nose tackle is probable for the Bears game.
"We'll evaluate him, but I'm more convinced that we will play him than we will not play him at this point," Gailey said.
Players who didn't participate in Thursday's workout included wide receiver Roscoe Parrish, linebacker Robert Eddins, tight end Shawn Nelson and cornerback Justin Rogers. Tight end Scott Chandler, who missed Wednesday's practice because of the birth of his child, missed the morning walk through but returned in time for the afternoon session. Rookie Johnny White's girlfriend gave birth two days before training camp began.
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The Bills announced that games against Washington (in Toronto Oct. 30), at Miami (Nov. 20), and at San Diego (Dec. 11) have been selected as Official Bills Fan and Corporate Travel games for 2011 through PrimeSport, the official fan travel partners for the team. Fans looking to buy a travel package for one of the designated games should go to primesport.com/buffalobills or call PrimeSport at 800-591-9198.