Both players realize time is of the essence. One loss could end the Buffalo Bills' playoff hopes. So both inside linebacker Nigel Bradham and right guard John Miller speak with urgency in their voice.
On defense, Bradham plans on testing his ankle injury at practice Wednesday. Right now, his goal is to return Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I’m shooting for this week," Bradham said. "But I’m not 100 percent sure.”
He's giving himself a realistic shot to play, too.
“Most definitely," he continued. "I’m not going to count myself out. But I’ll know later this week how I can cut and everything like that. ... I pretty much have to listen to the doctors for the most part but my plan is to try to get out there this week.”
Bradham was originally injured in the Bills' loss at Kansas City, an injury coach Rex Ryan said kept a hockey player out eight weeks. He compared the linebacker to a Jeep, saying "as long as you got one or two lug nuts on it he is going to play."
Elsewhere, guard John Miller isn't as close to returning. The rookie said he's dealing with a high ankle sprain and is taking it day to day. While he won't be ready to return this week against Philadelphia, Miller does expect to be back this season.
"The thing with this is you think it feels good one week and then the next week it gets sore," Miller said. "It lingers. ... I’ll definitely be back sometime this year. For sure. Maybe not this week. But maybe next week or the week after that. But I’m definitely not going to sit out the whole year for this.”
Bradham was replaced in the line-up by rookie Tony Steward, who then suffered a back injury himself. With Ryan hinting that those who didn't finish Buffalo's win Sunday won't be ready to return, that'd mean Kevin Reddick would start at inside linebacker if Bradham is unable to return.
Meanwhile, at guard, veteran Kraig Urbik has performed well. The Bills doubled J.J. Watt throughout the game and the defensive player of the year candidate was not a factor. Buffalo ripped the Texans' front seven, one full of first-round picks, for 187 rushing yards on 36 attempts. Miller called it "awesome" to watch this all, that the Bills "moved the ball at will and looked unstoppable" at times.
At some point, he hopes to be a part of it.
High ankle sprains, of course, can linger for weeks, even months. But Miller has tried doing more agility work with the trainers, including some position-specific drills.
"So maybe I'll step out there sometime this week or maybe next week," said Miller. "It all depends how the ankle feels and what me and the trainers think is best.”
For Bradham, who has 59 tackles and one sack this season, the key is moving laterally. He can run straightforward, but now must cut on a dime at practice to see if the ankle is ready. If he feels comfortable at practice, he'll play.
He called Reddick "a quick learner," and credited Manny Lawson for wearing so many hats last weekend. But the Bills' battered defense certainly could use Bradham.
Like most in this locker room, he's tired of the "same old Bills" narrative that sets in this time of year.
“It’s one of those things," Bradham said, "you’re kind of tired of hearing about it. Let’s go out here and win. Take care of it on your own. Let your actions show that you don’t even have to talk about it anymore.”