LeSean McCoy returned to practice Friday, but was non-committal about whether he will be ready to play in the Buffalo Bills’ Sept. 13 regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts.
“We’ll wait and see,” he said after his limited participation in the workout. “We’ll see how everything plays out. I’ve just got to control what I can control and that’s just working hard and get ready to get out there.”
McCoy’s return was particularly notable, given a recent ESPN report that the team was concerned his injured hamstring might be severe enough to cause him to miss the opener.
Coach Rex Ryan disputed that notion Friday.
“Apparently, that person knows more than I do,” Ryan said. “… I’m hoping that he’ll be available to us and I think the only thing I mentioned” previously “was cautiously optimistic and I remain optimistic.”
When informed of Ryan’s remarks, McCoy said, “Me, too. Like I said, it’s just a matter of time.” Asked about the ESPN report, the running back said he would leave it to the coaches to address injuries.
“That’s why we’re working here every day, man, with the treatment and the trainers to get everything right,” he said.
Rookie running back Karlos Williams also returned to practice for the first time since undergoing surgery for an unspecified issue that he said resulted from “a freak accident” and was a “very, very delicate situation.”
“It felt good being out there and just being able to run around a little bit,” Williams said. “Even giving a look for the defense. Being excited about football all over again. Being down, being injured for a little bit, you stay mentally into it, going to meetings, and get inside your playbook, you kind of lose that excitement almost. But watching my team the last couple of weeks I’ve been excited.”
Williams said he “most definitely” expected to be ready for the season-opener and would contribute on special teams while trying to work himself into the running back rotation.
Besides McCoy and Williams, the Bills also are carrying Boobie Dixon and Bryce Brown and fullback Jerome Felton in their backfield with three roster moves to make by Saturday’s 6 p.m. NFL deadline to reach the 53-man limit.
Dan Carpenter understands why Ryan is calling him out and calling for available NFL kickers to audition for his job.
“Yeah, if you have a kicker that goes 3 for 6 in the preseason, you should be concerned as a coach,” Carpenter said. “That’s their job, and, obviously, I need to do better. I know that, he knows that, everyone else in this building knows that, everyone else in this building expects me to do better. That’s pretty much all there is to it.”
Carpenter’s third miss came on a 40-yard field-goal attempt in Thursday night’s 17-10 preseason-finale loss against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field after making a 43-yarder earlier in the game. He also has missed an extra-point try from the new longer, 33-yard distance.
After the game, an angry Ryan said, “Hell, we can’t make a field goal. So we’d better be looking for any guy that’s ever kicked a football in his life.”
Asked Friday if the Bills were still looking for a new kicker, the coach said, “We will definitely look at anything that we think can help our team and that’s at any position. That’s kicker, that’s any spot and that’s every single one ... to say that I’m just gonna turn a blind eye to the fact that we missed four kicks, that’s not me. You can criticize me all you want about it, but I couldn’t care less. I’m about right now, about this team and if there’s somebody that we feel can help our team, regardless of the position, then we’ll certainly look at it.”
Carpenter wouldn’t blame the hamstring injury that sidelined him early in camp or anything else for his struggles.
“There’s really nothing to it,” he said. “You’ve got to put the ball between the yellow uprights. That’s obviously something I’ve done only about half the time. It’s got to be better.
“Obviously, I’m doing what I can to figure out what’s wrong, if there is something wrong. There can be over-analyzing at times. There’s not a whole lot I can do except move on and get better in the days to come and go from there.”
Ryan on whether he was confident or concerned about rookie cornerback Ronald Darby, who has struggled badly in the preseason, starting in place of injured Leodis McKelvin against Indianapolis: “I’m confident that he’ll do a good job for us. I’ve been confident in training camp and everything else. You’re not at liberty to discuss” officials’ “calls and all that stuff that you get back from the league saying that … whatever, pretty much what I thought.”
Nevertheless, Ryan would not rule out the Bills’ pursuit of a veteran cornerback.
“Again, we’ll be open to anything,” the coach said. “Anything that we think can make us a better football team then we’ll certainly look at that.”
One player Ryan singled out for performing well enough Thursday night to earn a roster spot was undrafted rookie inside linebacker AJ Tarpley, who also has benefitted from a season-ending knee injury to Ty Powell and a knee injury to fellow rookie linebacker Tony Steward.
“I think he was a guy that really did a tremendous job for us,” Ryan said. “He did a great job, he really jumped out.” Then, the coach joked, “Now if” star Baltimore Ravens linebacker “Terrell Suggs is cut or something like that, then, ‘See you later Tarpley.’ But he did a hell of a job.”
“I was excited, I knew I had the opportunity coming into this fourth game,” said Tarpley, a Stanford product. “I wasn’t going to have a sub; that wasn’t going to be an option. And I was going to get to play the whole game. And for me, as an undrafted guy, all you can ask for is an opportunity. … I feel like I proved myself a little bit, being able to play a whole game and be able to make some tackles, make some plays out there. It felt good.”