ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Protecting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick could be an issue on Sunday when the Buffalo Bills (5-7) host St. Louis' strong pass rush.
Buffalo's offensive line is in patchwork mode after injuries to center Eric Wood and tackle Chris Hairston. In fact, two players — Sam Young and David Snow — will make their first NFL career starts vs. the Rams (5-6-1).
"It's insane how many guys we lose every year," said Kraig Urbik, who will start at center or right guard. "It's not like guys are just wearing down. These are actual, physical injuries."
The Rams have the NFL's fourth-best sack total (34) and those numbers might spike up Sunday. St. Louis is paced by former first-round picks Robert Quinn and Chris Long, who have registered 8½ and seven sacks, respectively.
"They bring a lot of pressure," said Snow, a 6-foot-4, 303-pound rookie out of Texas who can play center and guard. "It's evident that they're a very good defense. It'll be fun to play them."
Snow, 23, saw his first NFL action against Jacksonville last week. Young, 25, is a 6-foot-8, 316-pound tackle in his third season out of Notre Dame who will line up vs. Long.
"It's a great chance to compete against a great defensive end," Young said. "He's had a lot of production this year and it's a good opportunity for me to test where I'm at."
The new crew has a lot to live up to. The Bills have allowed the sixth-fewest sacks (20) in the NFL despite using five different starters at right guard or right tackle.
Whatever the combination on Sunday, the Rams are just going to have to wait to figure it out. Buffalo coach Chan Gailey is keeping his alignment close to the vest, and likes it that way. Urbik or Snow, after all, could play center or guard, or both.
"This might be overall as athletic of a defensive front as we have played all season," Gailey said. "You look at all the guys they rotate through there. They are playing extremely well right now and it will be a challenge for (Young) and David (Snow).
The Bills practiced indoors Friday after spending Thursday outdoors. Gailey said receiver Donald Jones will return to the lineup and that Stevie Johnson (questionable) has improved. How Johnson feels on Saturday, though, will be a key to Gailey's ultimate decision.
Gailey listed cornerback Aaron Williams as questionable.
"It'll be close," he said.
Leodis McKelvin is also questionable, as is Spencer Johnson, Chris White and Justin Rogers. Defensive end Mark Anderson, like Wood, is out.
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