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American Football: Bills may sit Henry as precaution

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posted on Aug, 24 2004 @ 09:29 AM
Running back Willis McGahee could get his chance to be the Buffalo Bills starter sooner than anticipated.

Travis Henry is listed as day to day and missed practice on Monday with bruised ribs. That could open the door for McGahee to make his first NFL start in Buffalo's preseason game at Indianapolis on Saturda.

While Henry's injury is not described as severe, coach Mike Mularkey said he could keep him from playing as a precaution.

"It's not official, but I'm not going to push him to play if there's any pain at all," Mularkey said. "I'd maybe have a different answer if we were in the regular season. But I'm not going to push that right now. It's just to get him back full strength."

Henry was hurt 10 minutes into the second quarter of Buffalo's 16-15 loss to Tennessee Saturday, when he was knocked to the ground by linebacker Keith Bulluck. The running back watched Monday's practice at the Bills training camp in suburban Rochester from the sideline. "Today I felt better than I did yesterday. I was a little sore, but that's expected," he said.

Henry said the injury is not as severe as when he tore rib cartilage in the same spot in Week 3 of last season. He missed only one game, electing to play through the injury.

When he returns, Henry said he will likely play with a protective vest.

Both Henry and McGahee have said they want to start. And questions intensified last week when The Associated Press, citing a source close to McGahee, reported the player has asked to be traded if he's not the starter on opening day.

Bills president Tom Donahoe denied the report and said he has no intention of trading either player now.

The Bills have maintained that Henry is the starter and McGahee will get his share of carries as the backup.

Henry is coming off his second consecutive 1,300-yard rushing season. McGahee, Buffalo's first-round pick in 2003, is ready to play after missing his entire rookie season recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left leg.

McGahee didn't make himself available to reporters after practice.

He took over for Henry on Saturday, finishing with 11 carries for 28 yards and a touchdown. He had a better performance, with 13 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown, in Buffalo's preseason-opening 16-6 win over Denver.

Mularkey believes McGahee is ready for a chance, at least in a preseason start.

"He's run well," Mularkey said. "I think he's going to keep getting and better. As you watch him, he's getting more comfortable and confident with his leg."

And, the injury, though minor to Henry, is a reason the Bills intend to keep two running backs.

"I'm not sure you don't need three backs, to be honest with you," Mularkey said. "This is a perfect example of it. You still want to have full strength in your run game. You don't want to alter your game plan because of that. And I don't think we have to with the guys we have."

Punter Brian Moorman also didn't practice on Monday. He missed Saturday's game with a strained left hamstring. Backup offensive lineman Marcus Price was also held out of practice. Price missed all of last week with a broken toe on his left foot.

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