Preseason essentially is a washout for Mitch Morse.
The Buffalo Bills’ center was ruled out of Friday’s exhibition game against the Detroit Lions, coach Sean McDermott said Wednesday.
Morse returned to practice on a limited basis Tuesday but he remains in the concussion protocol, McDermott said. This makes 24 days the Bills’ big free-agent signee has been out of full contact for the Bills.
He only has participated fully in three training camp practices, the last on July 27.
If Morse gets cleared for full contact, he could suit up in the exhibition finale against Minnesota Aug. 29. But most NFL teams sit most of their starters in the last preseason game. It’s hard to imagine him making any more than a cameo appearance against the Vikings.
McDermott said he could not comment on a timeline for Morse’s full return. But the coach sounded somewhat optimistic.
“The thing on Mitch is he’s in the protocol,” McDermott said. “He continues to progress within the protocol, but the goal is to have a good end of the week and then into next week.”
Morse had three reported concussions during his four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Asked if Morse didn’t need preseason action since he’s a veteran, McDermott said: “No, we all need the preseason reps. I need the preseason reps. Especially in a new system, we all need the reps.”
The Bills have been using fifth-year veteran Jon Feliciano at center in Morse’s place. Feliciano’s primary position is guard.
The NFL’s concussion protocol includes a five-step process without any timeline set for a player to return from a concussion. The first four are: rest and recovery; light aerobic exercise; introduction of strength training; and football-specific activities. That fourth step is where Morse stands. The fifth step is clearance for full contact. A player has to be cleared by an independent neurological consultant to return to game action.
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Bills tackle Ty Nsekhe (knee) was limited in Wednesday’s practice. That meant Spencer Long remained at right guard, and rookie Cody Ford remained at right tackle.
Meanwhile, four players remain out for the Bills. They are tight end Tyler Kroft, punter Cory Carter, cornerback Cam Lewis and tackle De’Ondre Wesley. All of those players will be held out of Friday’s game, McDermott said.
McDermott said the following players were limited in practice, in addition to Morse and Nsekhe: Jerry Hughes, Conor McDermott and Senorise Perry.
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Typically, teams play their starters a full half and then often for one series in the third quarter. For the most part, that’s what McDermott did last summer. He would not be specific on how long the starters will play in Detroit but said: “They’ll definitely play more than they played against Carolina.”
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Bills backup QB Matt Barkley has completed 70.8% of his passes in two exhibitions. He completed 47% while working mostly with young backups in Cincinnati last summer. He said he doesn’t pay much attention to exhibition statistics.
“I don’t care about numbers,” he said. “I care about playing smart football. From my perspective, what people watching on TV don’t see, is my decision-making, my game management, how we’re managing the clock, how we’re managing the huddle, how I’m getting up to speed with those decisions. Numbers will happen. You can’t really judge by a quarter or a half. But making sure you’re playing smart football is what you want.”