The Buffalo Bills' receiving corps will be depleted as the team prepares for its third preseason game this week.
The Bills lost starting receiver Donald Jones to a head injury after he took a wicked hit from Denver safety Rahim Moore late in the first half. Jones was talking to teammates in the locker room and was "OK," according to coach Chan Gailey. But he's likely to miss some time.
Receiver Naaman Roosevelt had a sore ankle after the game after a Denver player rolled up on his leg at the end of a catch near the end of the game. And the Bills already were missing veterans Craig Davis and Roscoe Parrish. Davis missed most of practice last week with a strained leg muscle. Parrish is out with a strained hamstring.
In the wake of the trade of Lee Evans, the Bills really could use Davis' veteran presence on the field as the offense gets ready for the regular season.
"By the end we kind of ran out of receivers those last few minutes," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "That's just part of it. You hope that none of those guys are going to be hurt more than a few days. The biggest thing for me is we've got to go practice with a greater focus knowing that we have a lot of work in front of us."
Gailey said the early indication after the game was that all of the injured players might be ready for the season opener. That included running back Johnny White, who was cleared by doctors of any major injury after taking a blow to the head. It also included linebacker Arthur Moats, who suffered a lower-leg injury.
The Bills were fuming over the hit that Moore put on Jones, which may well have caused a concussion. Jones was in a defenseless position, and Moore made contact with Jones' helmet as he was stretched out for a sideline pass. Moore received a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. Fullback Corey McIntyre had to be restrained from going after some Broncos, and running back Fred Jackson was visibly angry.
"One thing that maybe was a positive tonight was the reaction from our guys," Fitzpatrick said. "I think we are a tight unit, and you saw it right there. And you saw it by the way that Fred ran the ball the next few plays. For somebody to take a shot at our guy and come after our guy, it didn't sit well with us, and I really like the reaction we had."
Jackson ran with a vengeance on a 20-yard gain around right end two plays after the hit.
"I want the guy to at least make it out of bed the next morning," Moore said. "I mean no harm. But you know what? It's football."
The Bills gave running back C.J. Spiller the chance to show what he could do as the No. 1 back against Denver's starters. Spiller had runs of 5 and 14 yards on the first drive and a pass reception for 8 yards in the second quarter. He also had an 8-yard loss on a run that was blown up in the backfield. For the game, he had six carries for 10 yards and two catches for 11 yards.
"C.J. did a couple nice things out there, hit some runs, hit some creases," Gailey said. "He ran up in there, he held onto the ball. I don't know about protection. I'll have to go back and look at that. But we wanted to look at him tonight to see where he's made progress, and I thought he did make progress. That was a positive."
"I knew coming in they wanted to see what I could do," Spiller said. "I was excited. I went out there with the mindset of trying to get my job done and help my team. I thought I did a good job tonight. It's something to build on. We'll go back and look at the film and see what I can correct."
Jackson gained 34 yards on four carries.
Bills second-year receiver Marcus Easley had an ill-timed dropped pass to kill a scoring chance late in the second quarter. Fitzpatrick hit him in the hands on a slant, but it caromed into the arms of Denver's D.J. Williams for an interception. A catch would have given the Bills a 13-yard gain and a first down at the Denver 15. Easley came back and had catches of 22 and 23 yards in the fourth quarter.
"I struggled a little bit early, but just tried to bounce back in the second half," Easley said.