Three of the Buffalo Bills' five starting offensive linemen from the season opener in Kansas City face the prospect of offseason rehabilitation from surgery.
Both center Kraig Urbik and left tackle Demetrius Bell suffered serious injuries in Saturday's 40-14 victory over the Denver Broncos. They've both been ruled out for the season finale in New England, and coach Chan Gailey confirmed Monday each player suffered a significant injury.
That leaves the Bills with just six healthy offensive linemen, with tackle Sam Young as the lone reserve. Gailey said he will meet with General Manager Buddy Nix this week to decide on a roster move. The Bills usually dress seven offensive linemen on game days, and have a pair of guards in Keith Williams and Michael Jasper on the practice squad.
The long-term concern regarding the injuries to Bell and Urbik centers on their availability for next season.
"I'm much more concerned about this game than I am next year. I want to make sure that we get the five guys who are on the field knowing what to do and executing," Gailey said. "It's a great opportunity for the guys that are going to play now to get some experience and show what they can do. That's what this last game is about. I'm not concerned about next year. I'm much more concerned about this ballgame."
Bell's injury was described by Gailey as "as much ankle as it was knee." It comes at the worst possible time for the fourth-year pro, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Bell missed eight games earlier this year after suffering a fractured collarbone against Cincinnati in Week Four. He played in just eight games in 2009 because of microfracture surgery on his right knee.
The starting left tackle job in 2012 is likely to go to rookie Chris Hairston, while Bell was expected to leave as a free agent. Strangely enough, this injury might lead him back to the Bills. Bell can provide decent depth along the offensive line, and given that he faces an uncertain offseason of rehab, staying with the Bills may be in the best interest of both parties.
Urbik, who started the season at right guard and has since moved to center to replace the injured Eric Wood (who had ACL surgery in November), will be a restricted free agent. He's had a good year for the Bills, who will certainly bring him back. If Wood is able to return at full health, Urbik will go back to his right guard position.
If Urbik, who needs surgery on his right knee, is not ready for the start of the 2012 season, the right guard job will fall to Chad Rinehart, who will start there in Sunday's finale.
Colin Brown will start at center in Urbik's spot against the Patriots.
Tight end Mike Caussin also tore the ACL in his right knee Saturday and will miss the season finale.
With four interceptions of Tim Tebow on Saturday, the Bills now have 20 on the season, tops in the AFC. Buffalo's total is tied with Detroit for fourth most in the NFL. The Bills have three games with at least four interceptions this season -- against Denver, New England and Philadelphia.
"Defensively we made it very simple. We played only a few calls so that guys were comfortable just lining up, knowing what their assignments were, knowing what the adjustments would be and just lining up and playing," safety George Wilson said. "The front seven did a great job controlling the line of scrimmage so there weren't a lot of gaps in the running game."
Rookie Aaron Williams recorded his first career interception.
"My whole goal for [Saturday's] game was to stay on top," Williams said. "They're going to take chances on me. When you're a rookie, even I'd take chances on the guy that's the rookie. I stuck to my technique."
With the win, the Bills fell to a tie for the 10th overall pick in the draft with Kansas City. Both teams have 6-9 records and their opponents have identical records of 124-116, leaving the strength of schedule tiebreaker even at .517.