The Buffalo Bills’ injury report had a high-profile addition Thursday.
Running back LeSean McCoy left practice Thursday after experiencing “tightness” in his hamstring, according to coach Rex Ryan.
“I know the first thing is going to be, whoa, whoa, whoa, what’s up with McCoy’s hamstring,” Ryan said. “It was a little tight, a little sore, so I think that’s where it is. Do I expect him to play? I certainly hope so. He just felt sore, so we backed him out.”
McCoy initially suffered a hamstring injury almost exactly a month ago, during an Aug. 18 night practice with the Cleveland Browns. He sat out the final three preseason games, but got a steady workload in the season opener. He carried the ball 17 times for 41 yards and also caught three passes for 46 yards in playing 71 percent of the Bills’ offensive snaps.
Ryan said that Karlos Williams would replace McCoy in the lineup, but “I don’t even want to think that way. ... I’m not giving up on McCoy.”
Williams said he didn’t even notice during practice that McCoy had left.
“We get so many reps, and the ball moves so fast around, so much going on, we really try to pay attention to the plays and get those mental reps, so really did not notice that he wasn’t out there,” he said. “I hope he’s back, I hope he can play. If he’s not, then I’ll be ready to play.”
Williams said he’s 100 percent recovered from an undisclosed surgery he had that took him out of the final three preseason games. If he does have to step in for McCoy, his role will not only involve more carries, but also blocking and receiving.
“Been doing that since the day I got here,” he said. “It’s very key for this offense that the back can protect, the back can catch the ball out of the backfield, so if my number’s called, I’m definitely ready.”
Wide receiver Percy Harvin, who has been dealing with a hip injury, practiced fully Thursday one day after being given a rest day. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Bills continued to do that on a weekly basis.
Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (ribs) and rookie linebacker Tony Steward (knee) did not practice, although they did work out with trainers off to the side, a sign that they could be nearing a return.
Safety Corey Graham (concussion) was limited for a second straight day Thursday. His status will be updated by Ryan on Friday.
On the New England side, defensive lineman Dominique Easley (hip) sat out practice for a second straight day Thursday, leaving his availability for Sunday in doubt.
It was a strange sight.
There was former Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler last week on national TV, celebrating a touchdown with Tom Brady.
Chandler’s debut with the New England Patriots in Week One was a successful one, as his only catch went for a 1-yard touchdown in a 28-21 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Sunday, Chandler will return to Ralph Wilson Stadium as a visitor after spending the last five seasons with the Bills. In speaking with Patriots beat writers Thursday, he made it clear he’s got no time for sentimentality.
“I’m just trying to approach it like every other week,” Chandler said. “I’m real excited to be here in New England and just going about my business and doing my job.”
Chandler gave the Bills steady play over those five years, catching 182 passes for 2,120 yards and 17 touchdowns. His snow shoveling touchdown celebration during the Bills’ victory over the New York Jets last November – in a game moved to Detroit because of the massive snowstorm that pulverized the Southtowns – was a touching gesture to fans impacted by the storm. He was also a regular visitor to sick children at Women’s and Children’s Hospital, among other charitable endeavors.
Chandler was released at the end of the 2014 season with one year remaining on his contract as the Bills opted to sign Charles Clay away from the Miami Dolphins to be their starting tight end.
“I think that’s something that maybe when I’m done playing, I’ll think about it more,” Chandler said when asked what his time in Buffalo meant to him. “Right now, I’m just focused on doing what I can do to help the Patriots win.”
Of course, after five years in Western New York, Chandler has a good idea of what the atmosphere will be like Sunday, and what the Bills’ defense might throw at the Patriots.
“I think it all starts with those guys up front – good players, guys who have been around for a while – and really do a good job,” he said. The other guys fly around. They’ve got a great core group there and those guys are playing well. ... Those fans want something to cheer for. They get loud when they get going. That’s going to be something that we’re prepared for and we’re going to have to handle it well on Sunday.”