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Sore ankle expected to keep Whitner out of preseason opener

  • By Associated Press
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Starting strong safety Donte Whitner is expected to miss the Buffalo Bills preseason opener at Washington on Saturday because of a sore left ankle.

Donte Whitner, S
Buffalo Bills

2007 Statistics
Tackles: 89
Forced fumbles: 1
Interceptions: 1

Veteran slot receiver Josh Reed also is expected to miss the game because of a sore lower back. The potential good news is that receiver James Hardy could play after the rookie second-round draft pick returned to practice Wednesday after missing nearly a week with a sore left hamstring.

Whitner described his injury as minor, adding that he would be able to play if this were a regular-season game. Out since jamming his ankle in practice Saturday, Whitner said all test results show no damage.

"There's no swelling. It's just sore. It's just tender," he said, noting he expects to be back at practice Monday, and should play in Buffalo's next preseason game against Pittsburgh at Toronto on Aug. 14.

Coach Dick Jauron wouldn't completely rule out Whitner or Reed, but instead called it a long-shot as to whether either will play. Jauron said it's too early to tell whether Hardy will be able to play.

Reed has been out since Friday, and it's unclear when he will return. Entering his seventh NFL season, Reed is the longest-tenured member of the receiving corps, and competing with Hardy and Roscoe Parrish for the No. 2 and 3 spots opposite starter Lee Evans.

Hardy returned to practice after being limited to individual workouts for most of this week. He was guardedly hopeful he'll be able to play Saturday, but noted that determination won't be made until trainers continue monitoring his hamstring to see how it responds after the next two practices.

"Hopefully, I will play. I'm looking forward to it," Hardy said, noting that his hamstring was still a little sore. "If it's meant for me to play, I'll play. If not, I'll be there against Pittsburgh."

The important thing, Hardy said, is for him to be healthy to play in the Bills regular season-opener against Seattle on Sept. 7. The Bills have high expectations for Hardy, the 6-foot-5 player out of Indiana, who they're counting on to provide the offense a big target and draw attention away from Evans.

Reserve receiver Scott Mayle (hamstring) and fourth-string quarterback Matt Baker (groin) also missed practice.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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