Right when Rex Ryan was delivering a stream of good news, the Buffalo Bills head coach dropped a nugget of bad news.
On Saturday, Ryan said that veteran Kyle Williams is “50-50” to return this season from his knee injury. He’s hopeful next week the team will have a better gauge of where Williams is in his recovery, but the 10-year veteran is apparently in danger of not returning.
“I know he’s frustrated,” Ryan said. “He was doing really well. Kind of had a setback, but we’re not sure how much that’s going to set him back.”
Asked if he’s confident Williams will return by the end of the season, Ryan said he’s hopeful but added “Maybe 50-50 on if he will or not.”
Williams originally left Buffalo’s 34-21 loss to Cincinnati on a cart after a teammate rolled up on his knee.
In his place, as the season progresses, Corbin Bryant, Alex Carrington and Stefan Charles will all play roles next to Marcell Dareus on the defensive line. Bryant has 21 tackles this season, while Carrington and Charles have six apiece.
“Guys are doing a good job,” Ryan said. “Carrington, I’m happy he’s back. He seems to be healthy, obviously with Corbin and then Stefan Charles, even though he wasn’t active last week. I think those guys have done a pretty good job.”
Losing Williams would be a blow to the defensive line. Even at 32 years old, he was playing well before the injury with 14 tackles and one sack. And the previous two seasons, he had 16 sacks. Now, Buffalo waits.
Elsewhere, Ryan still has hope that safety Aaron Williams (neck), who’s on injured reserve with designation to return, could play in 2015.
“I know he’s starting to move a little bit,” Ryan said. “He still looks a little stiff. Clearly, he’s not ready to go for the next several weeks. But we’ll see, hopefully by the end of the year he’ll be coming back.”
Otherwise, the Bills are a very healthy team into this rematch with the Patriots. Guard Richie Incognito (shoulder) is listed as questionable on the injury report, but Ryan said he will play. And safety Leodis McKelvin and running back Karlos Williams, who had illnesses this week, are not even listed on the injury report.
“We’re ready to go,” Ryan said. “I like the fact that everybody’s coming back, man. We’re as healthy as we’ve been all season. We still have a couple good players out but we feel good.”
For the Patriots, playmaking linebacker Jamie Collins missed his 14th practice in a row with an illness and was ruled out for Monday.
The last time McKelvin played the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football, the 2009 season opener, his fumble opened the door for a wild Patriots comeback. It was the kind of mistake that could’ve haunted a second-year player. After the Patriots pulled within five points, two minutes to go, McKelvin fumbled the kick return and Tom Brady completed the comeback. Afterward, fans spray-painted the score of the game and an obscenity in McKelvin’s lawn.
McKelvin didn’t let the game define him, growing into a regular starter at cornerback. But in Rex Ryan’s defense – with rookie Ronald Darby’s rapid progress – Buffalo didn’t need McKelvin at cornerback when he returned from his ankle injury.
Ryan has used McKelvin at safety, where he can often drop into coverage. He’ll likely play a key role against New England’s multi-receiver sets.
“I think it’s preparation,” Ryan said. “Even though he was out all those weeks, he was in all the meetings. Sometimes you worry about guys because they don’t do it on the field and they really aren’t doing it mentally. Well, he clearly was involved mentally and he learned the defense. It wasn’t like he just learned how to play corner. He’s playing a nickel spot. He’s playing safety. He’s doing all that stuff. He’s been outstanding.”