LeSean McCoy’s first season with the Buffalo Bills will end with a trip to the Pro Bowl.
The running back was the lone member of the team selected to the NFL’s annual all-star game Tuesday night, the fourth such honor for the seventh-year veteran.
McCoy, 27, has rushed for 895 yards in 12 games this season, his first with the Bills since coming to Buffalo in an offseason trade with the Philadelphia Eagles for linebacker Kiko Alonso. He is one of only of four players who switched teams for the 2015 season to make the Pro Bowl.
McCoy’s average of 74.6 rushing yards per game ranks fifth in the NFL. His 98.9 yards from scrimmage per game ranks sixth in the league.
Earlier this season, McCoy became just the third member of the Bills to have at least 100 yards from scrimmage in seven straight games, joining Hall of Famers O.J. Simpson and Thurman Thomas. That streak came to an end Sunday against Washington, when McCoy suffered a knee injury in the third quarter.
That injury puts the final two games of his season in question, as well as his appearance in the Pro Bowl, which is scheduled to be played Jan. 31 in Hawaii.
McCoy, who also went to the Pro Bowl in 2011, 2013 and 2014, has rushed for 7,687 yards since entering the NFL in 2009, third most in the league over that time.
The Bills turned over nearly 10 percent of their roster Tuesday afternoon with a flurry of moves.
The most notable transaction was the release of wide receiver/return man Marcus Thigpen. The team also placed wide receiver Robert Woods and linebacker Randell Johnson on injured reserve, and placed right tackle Seantrel Henderson on the reserve/non-football illness list.
In their place, Buffalo signed wide receivers Dez Lewis, Walter Powell and Greg Salas, along with defensive end Jerel Worthy, to the 53-man roster. Lewis, Powell and Worthy were promoted from the practice squad.
Lewis was the team’s seventh-round draft pick in April out of Central Arkansas. He has spent the entire season on the practice squad after failing to make the final roster before the start of the regular season.
Powell was in his second stint on the Bills’ practice squad this season. He re-joined it in November after the Oakland Raiders had briefly signed him to their 53-man roster. Powell played in four games under current Bills coach Rex Ryan with the New York Jets last season, primarily as a return specialist. With Thigpen’s release, it’s possible he takes over that role with the Bills. A sixth-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2014, he has 12 career punt returns for 48 yards and eight kickoff returns for 233 yards.
Worthy is a former second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2012. He’s played in 16 career games with 15 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
Salas was cut by the Detroit Lions after training camp. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder has the most NFL experience of any of the players signed, appearing in 25 career games with two starts. He has 43 career receptions for 574 yards, along with two carries for 28 yards and a touchdown.
Johnson suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Redskins on Sunday, while Woods has a groin injury that Ryan described Monday as “pretty severe.” Henderson, meanwhile, has been dealing for weeks with an illness. The Buffalo News reported last week he is battling Crohn’s disease.
Additionally, the Bills added quarterback Zac Dysert to the practice squad. A former seventh-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2013, Dysert has also spent time with the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans. During his time at Miami (Ohio), Dysert set a school record for total offense with 12,678 yards.
The team also signed tight end Jacob Maxwell to the practice squad. Since joining the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2014, he’s bounced between the Lions, Bears and Dolphins. The 6-4, 240-pounder had 36 catches for 377 yards and six touchdowns during his college career with Louisiana-Lafayette.
Safety Aaron Williams will not return to the field this season.
Begrudgingly, he’s OK with that.
“He knows that I really want to play this year, but unfortunately the outcome is a lot different than I expected,” Williams said Tuesday, a day after coach Rex Ryan announced Williams would sit out the final two games of 2015. “All I can do is really just get ready for next year.”
Williams, who has missed all but three games this season, said his neck injury feels “amazing” since he returned to practice, but he has still not been cleared for contact. He remains on the injured reserve/designated to return list and will transition to the seasonlong injured reserve list next week.
“I haven’t really taken any hits yet,” he said. “The fact of going out there and running around a little bit, you know, I’m very happy about that.”
After admitting earlier this season that he had contemplated retirement, Williams said Tuesday that thought no longer crosses his mind.
“Not at all. I’m going to be back next year – there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it,” he said. “That’s just my mental state and that’s just what I really believe in.”
Williams said by the time spring practices roll around, he’ll be a full participant. However, in that setting, there is no contact. He admitted that it won’t be until training camp, when the team is in full pads, that he’ll truly know that his neck is ready to withstand the pounding NFL players take.
That puts the Bills in a precarious position. Surely, they would like to upgrade the safety position in the offseason. Williams would do that – if he’s healthy. Without knowing that, however, the team will have to prepare like they won’t have him. That could make safety one of the biggest offseason priorities.
Christmas came a few days early for members of the Bills’ offensive line Tuesday. At each of their lockers was a new, 65-inch Samsung ultra HDTV.
Playing Santa in this case was quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
“Kind of just reinforces what I feel about him. That he just gets it man, he understands the game, he understands being a quarterback, he understands his role with us,” center Eric Wood said. “Really nice gesture of him.”