Bills' Schobel has foot placed in cast, not expected to miss season

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Bills top pass-rusher Aaron Schobel will spend at least the next week with his left foot in a cast, but is not expected to miss the rest of the season.

Schobel had the cast placed on his foot to protect a sprained ligament in his big toe after the he was examined by a specialist in North Carolina, a person familiar with the injury told The Associated Press on Thursday. It's possible Schobel, who has already missed three games because of the injury, could be back by the end of the month, the person said.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Bills have not have not released information on the severity of the injury.

Coach Dick Jauron has listed Schobel as being out on a week-to-week basis. On Thursday, Jauron would only say that Schobel was back in Buffalo after being examined by a specialist and will meet with the team's medical staff.

The Bills (5-3) have lost three of four games and are preparing to play at New England (5-3) on Sunday in a key showdown between two of the three AFC East leaders.

The person said doctors are confident the injury should heal on its own, though further tests are required. There remains the possibility a screw would have to be surgically inserted to secure the ligament that holds Schobel's big toe to his foot.

That diagnosis is much brighter than last week, when fears were raised that Schobel would miss the rest of the season.

Schobel has been out since aggravating the injury during a 41-17 loss at Arizona on Oct. 5. He was initially injured a week earlier during a 31-14 win at St. Louis.

The Bills' pass rush has dwindled since Schobel's injury. After getting 10 sacks in opening the season with four victories, Buffalo has managed just three in its past four games.

Schobel got just one sack before he was hurt, but had been among the team leaders with 32 tackles. Selected by Buffalo in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft, Schobel ranks second on the team with 68 career sacks.

The Bills' defense is further depleted with starting strong safety Donte Whitner out indefinitely after he separated his right shoulder in a 26-17 loss to the New York Jets last weekend.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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