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Buffalo Bills Enjoy Rare Run of Health Entering Atlanta Falcons Game

November 26th, 2013 at 7:30 PM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101
The Buffalo Bills enter this weekend's game against the Atlanta Falcons with a full lineup. That's the first time no Bills players are sitting out with injury – unless the worst happens during this week's practices.
"Don't jinx us," coach Doug Marrone joked after Tuesday's practice. "I think when you're healthy for a long period of time, that's really an advantage because the continuity and everyone is playing together, and everyone is getting a good feel for each other. I think that is very good."
The Bills humbled the Jets two weeks ago even without their top two receivers. But Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods returned to practice Monday following the Bills' bye Sunday, and players like C.J. Spiller (ankle) and EJ Manuel (knee) got some time off to rest.
 
'the new guy' photo (c) 2006, Rick Kimpel - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
 
That should help as the Bills push for an improbably playoff spot in the AFC. The Bills are 4-7 but only one game back, although six teams are all tied at 5-6. Four of the Bills' final five opponents are below .500, but the Jaguars and Buccaneers are both playing much-improved football of late. And even if Buffalo beats all those teams (Miami being the fourth), the Patriots likely will stand in the way in the season finale of a playoff spot.
 
So sporting a full lineup helps. So does getting players hurt earlier this season back up to full speed. Safety Jairus Byrd missed the first six games and started slowly upon his return from a foot injury but has three interceptions in his last two games. When asked what the Bills might have done with their star safety at full speed all season, Marrone once again turned jovial:
"It's Thanksgiving week, and you're bringing me down again," he joked before turning serious. "When I go back and I look at the past games – not just with Jairus, but just with the injuries. The injuries at quarterback, the three different quarterbacks … I think when I look back, those things are challenges, but I'm not going to stand here and say those are the reasons we lost."
They probably contributed to at least a couple defeats, though. And hopefully a fully healthy lineup can bring about a couple more victories to at least carry hope forward into the season's final month.
"It's important, and I'm excited because it's the healthiest we've been, and yet at the same point we haven't practiced healthy like this for a long time now," Marrone said. "It's been two days."

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Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Bills, Football, NFL

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