Bills set to re-shuffle O-Line against Texans

Bills set to re-shuffle O-Line against Texans

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) It's two steps forward and potentially one step back when it comes to the health of the Buffalo Bills starting offensive line coming out of the bye.

The good news is that starting left tackle Cordy Glenn and starting right guard Kraig Urbik are expected to return on Sunday, when Buffalo (3-4) travels to play the AFC-leading Houston Texans (6-1). Both missed three games with sprained right ankles.

On the downside, Erik Pears' status is uncertain after the starting right tackle missed practice Thursday.

Coach Chan Gailey said Pears was visiting a specialist to have a nagging hip-groin injury examined. Gailey said the injury is related to the one Pears had surgically repaired this offseason. And he didn't rule out the possibility of Pears requiring surgery again.

Gailey said he'll know more regarding Pears on Friday.

Pears has been inconsistent in starting all seven games this season. If he can't play, reserve tackle Chris Hairston is expected to take over after starting the past three games on the left side for Glenn.

Urbik's return is well-timed, too, because he'll reclaim his job at right guard after backup Chad Rinehart sustained what's feared to be a season-ending injury to his left ankle in a 35-34 loss to Tennessee two weeks ago.

Despite the constant shuffling, the Bills offensive line has been steady. Buffalo is tied for second in the NFL in having allowed just eight sacks this season. And the Bills have the league's fourth-best running attack.

``The last few weeks, we've done a good job, and it's kind of been patchwork just putting guys in there and trying to move guys around,'' quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. ``But getting some depth there and getting our starters back will be big for us.''

The Bills could use whatever edge they can get in facing Houston's sack-happy defense. J.J. Watt leads the NFL with 9 1/2 sacks, to go with 56 tackles (16 of them for a loss), 16 quarterback hits and 10 passes defensed. And he's part of a defense that's allowed the third-fewest yards.

``Yeah, it's going to definitely be a challenge, but there's a challenge every week,'' Urbik said. ``You can't be hesitant at all. You have to trust your technique, especially going up against a guy like J.J. You need to be on your game every single play or he's going to expose you.''

Urbik has 19 starts in two-plus seasons in Buffalo. Glenn is Buffalo's rookie second-round draft pick out of Georgia.

Rinehart's injury could open the door for cornerback Ron Brooks to be activated this week. The rookie fourth-round pick has been out since breaking his right foot in the final week of the preseason.

He began practicing two weeks ago, and is eligible to return after opening the season on the IR/Designated for Return list.

``I'm ready right now,'' Brooks said. ``I'm just happy to have at least half of my season back.''


NOTES: LG Andy Levitre is once again growing his Fu Manchu moustache to support the Berkley Fire Department annual fundraiser to assist young burn victims. Levitre can be sponsored on the charities website ( ... DE Mark Anderson (left knee) will miss his third straight game after being ruled out by Gailey. ... The Bills have a 16-8 record in games following their bye week, and are 5-2 over the past seven seasons.


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!


Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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