While some of the Buffalo Bills' brightest stars get healthier, others are entering the season-long slog that accompanies playing hurt.
Running back LeSean McCoy didn't practice Wednesday. Coach Rex Ryan told reporters "we'll see how he progresses through the week." McCoy aggravated a hamstring injury he suffered in practice during Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins and is still hopeful that he can go against the Patriots on Sunday.
As for Sammy Watkins, he is finally out of his walking boot. Watkins was placed on injured reserve at the beginning of October with lingering foot issues. While he cannot practice until Nov. 11 or play until Nov. 27, the latest step in his recovery provides hope he might return in 2016 should the Bills be in the playoff hunt.
Last but not least, Ryan is hoping that defensive tackle Marcell Dareus will play Sunday after he practiced Wednesday.
"We're hoping he's out there," he said. "(He's) ene of the best in his position in the league."
For his part, Dareus is confident he will play.
"I'm going to be playing on Sunday," he said. "I can't wait. We want to pull it off, make it happen."
Dareus tweaked his hamstring a few weeks back and has yet to make his season debut. At the beginning of the year, he served a suspension for violating the NFL's policy on substances of abuse.
All of these developments have had a profound impact on a Bills team that is holding firm on second place in the AFC East. Although Ryan admitted Wednesday that catching Bill Belichick and the 6-1 Patriots might be difficult, he already has a win over New England under his belt and a team that seems to be getting healthier.
Obviously, the offense does not function as well without McCoy at 100 percent, but a team that can pencil Watkins in sometime over the coming month and add Dareus against the run has to like their wild-card appearance chances.