Rex Ryan said Thursday that the Buffalo Bills have concern for the future of safety Aaron Williams, who suffered a neck injury after taking a high hit from Miami receiver Jarvis Landry Sunday that several players have called dirty.
Williams also suffered a severe neck injury last season that caused him to temporarily lose feeling in half his body. He said last season that his return to the NFL was 50-50.
"I don’t think there’s any doubt there’s some long-term concerns there," Ryan said Thursday, though he added Williams has been taking part in meetings this week.
Asked if it was possible Williams could miss extended time this season, Ryan said, “You guys can figure that out. I think we all know the answer."
The next question, then, is if Williams is mulling retirement. He hasn't spoken to media since the injury.
Landry was flagged for the hit but not ejected from the game. NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino said on NFL Network this week that Landry wasn't tossed because "it’s tough to read intent there. That’s why the officials kept him in the game. It’s not an automatic ejection. It’s up to the discretion of the crew and they didn’t feel like it was flagrant enough to throw the player out of the game.”
"I felt like it could've been cleaner," said Bills receiver Robert Woods, who's known for his blocking. "It's part of the game, it's a block – a crackback block – but you know your opponent, you know some injuries they have. But I felt like he launched at his head. He didn't have to go like that to get his job done or to make the play. It looked like he went to hurt our player."
With Williams out, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said he plans to use multiple players to fill the void instead of having one man take over the job. That should mean an increase in playing time for Robert Blanton and Jonathan Meeks alongside Corey Graham.
Williams thanked Bills fans for their support in an Instagram post after the injury.
"We go through bumps and bruises through life," he wrote, "but for me I know I can trust in Him to guide me through tough times like these, just like how He has done for me in the past."
Running back LeSean McCoy (hamstring) missed another practice Thursday. Rex Ryan didn’t have much to say about his game availability.
“Not real sure,” he said. “Probably similar to last week. We’ll see how he progresses these next few days.”
So expect McCoy to be a game-time decision.
Receiver Marquise Goodwin remains in concussion protocol. Linebacker Zach Brown (illness) and left tackle Cordy Glenn (ankle) missed their second straight practice, though Ryan didn’t seem overly concerned when asked about Glenn.
Left guard Richie Incognito was also added to injury report Thursday with an illness that caused him to miss practice.
Limited participants: DL Corbin Bryant (shoulder), TE Charles Clay (ankle), LB Lerentee McCray (knee), DT Marcell Dareus (hamstring), RB Mike Gillislee (foot), LB Jerry Hughes (hand), RG John Miller (shoulder), WR Robert Woods (foot).
Full participant: T Seantrel Henderson (back).
With Goodwin still not cleared to return from his concussion, that opens the door for receiver Ed Eagen to make his NFL debut this week after being promoted from the practice squad Tuesday.
Eagen was undrafted out of Northwestern State in Louisiana, where he is the all-time leader in receptions and yards. He was an outside receiver at the FCS level but projects as a slot receiver in the NFL. Rex Ryan compared him to Wes Welker this week.
“This was a team that I wanted to come to from the beginning,” Eagen said. “Them and Dallas were the two teams that liked me” out of college.
Eagen signed with the Cowboys after the draft. He initially told NOLA.com that he had signed with the Bills, but said in a subsequent call that it was actually Dallas.
The Bills made one roster move Thursday, signing tackle Michael Ola to the practice squad after releasing him Tuesday to bring up Eagen. Ola was high school teammates with left tackle Cordy Glenn.
Tackle William Poehls was released from the practice squad to make room for Ola.
The Bills hurt their playoff odds more than any team in the league last week, according to the analytics site Football Outsiders. The Bills were given a 75.7 percent chance of making the playoffs at 4-2, but that dropped to 51.1 with the loss to Miami.
Football Outsiders' rankings also dropped the Bills from the fourth-best Super Bowl odds at 9.2 percent to ninth-best at 3.8. Popular betting site Bovada dropped the Bills' Super Bowl odds from 11th-best at 33-1 to 15th-best 50-1.