Niagara Gazette

Sports

November 18, 2013

Banged-up Bills get chance to rest during bye week

(Continued)

Coach Doug Marrone is on board in giving his players and staff a chance to get away from football with Buffalo one of the NFL's last four teams getting a break this weekend.

Rather than hold practice, Marrone has limited the schedule to conditioning sessions and team meetings before players depart on a four-day break Wednesday.

"We're not going to tax them before they leave," said Marrone. "I think it's more important to get everybody rested and ready to make a strong finish."

Beating the Jets has instilled a fresh breath life in the Bills, who had lost five of their previous six games.

Injuries played a factor during the slump, with rookie starting quarterback EJ Manuel missing four-plus games with a sprained right knee. After struggling in a 23-10 loss at Pittsburgh on Nov. 10, Manuel rebounded by going 20 of 28 for 245 yards and two touchdowns against the Jets.

"I give a lot of credit to the coaches and the team," Marrone said. "It's been a tough couple of weeks for everybody. And I think the coaches and players have handled it real well. It was very important to come away with a win."

With five games left, the Bills aren't entirely out of the playoff picture, but are going to need make a run to avoid extending the NFL's longest active postseason drought to 14 years.

Williams isn't the only player needing time to heal.

Marrone expects to get his top two receivers back after Stevie Johnson missed one game with a groin injury, and rookie Robert Woods missed two games with a sprained left ankle. And then there are running backs Fred Jackson (sprained left knee) and C.J. Spiller (sprained left ankle), who have both continued playing despite nursing injuries.

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