Peters back with Bills after lengthy holdout, wants to play

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Jason Peters rejoined his Buffalo Bills teammates on Monday for the first time since ending an offseason-long contract holdout, and proclaimed his intention to play this weekend.

"Yeah, I'm 100 percent ready to go and glad to be back," the Pro Bowl left tackle said after the team held a walkthrough a day after a season-opening 34-10 win over Seattle. Though Peters hasn't played in a game since Dec. 23, and missed all of the Bills' offseason practices including training camp, the player added he plans to be ready for Buffalo's game at Jacksonville on Sunday.

That remains to be seen.

Coach Dick Jauron said that while Peters passed the team's physical and arrived in very good shape on Saturday, it's too early to determine when the player will be added to the active roster.

"Jason is planning to play, but we won't know that until we see him practice," Jauron said. "Playing a game is not the same as conditioning to come to camp. So we have to make sure that when we do activate him that he is ready to go football-wise and we don't do that too soon."

The Bills have until Sept. 20 -- the day before they host Oakland -- to activate Peters after the NFL granted the team a two-week roster exemption. There's nothing preventing Buffalo from activating him earlier.

Peters expressed little regret over his decision to hold out in an attempt to force the Bills to renegotiate the final three years of his contract. He said that holding out was the only leverage he had to get his message across to the team.

Peters wants a raise because he is the team's third-highest paid offensive linemen and set to make a base salary of $3.25 million, which is considered low for a player at such a prominent position.

He elected to report only after his agent, Eugene Parker, received certain assurances from the Bills that they're open to discussing a new deal.

Peters wouldn't go into detail as to what assurances the Bills provided, only to say that Parker demanded that he report to the team on Saturday to break what Peters referred to as a deadlock.

"They said they're going to take care of it. I take their word on it and get ready for this season," Peters said.

Assurances aside, Peters' holdout could still prove costly. He was fined by the team about $650,000 for missing all of training camp and two mandatory spring minicamps. And he faced losing his first game check of about $191,000 if he failed to report before Buffalo's season-opener.

Peters said he wasn't sure whether any settlement was reached with the Bills in regards to the fines he owes.

Bills chief operating officer Russ Brandon has declined to discuss Peters' contract status since the player reported.

Previously, the Bills were steadfast in demanding that Peters play this season under his current deal before they'll consider reopening contract talks.

Peters' presence bolsters a reshuffled offensive line that has had right tackle Langston Walker playing on the left side, and reserve Kirk Chambers starting at right tackle. The line fared well against Seattle, allowing one sack, though it was the result of quarterback Trent Edwards not getting rid of the ball.

The Bills offense also produced 338 yards, breaking the 300-yard mark for only the sixth time since the start of last season.

Edwards looked forward to Peters' return.

"He's a big part of this offense, and the sooner we can get him in there back at 100 percent and rolling with this offense, we're only going to be better," Edwards said. "Now that the situation's over, it's one less question-answer I have to give to you guys, and it's one less distraction that's going to be going on in this locker room."

Peters' lone regret during the holdout was letting down his teammates.

"I wanted to be here, but I had to take care of my end of the bargain," Peters said. "I felt like I was letting them down a bit. But it was something I had to do for my family. (My teammates) are my family on the field. But I've got family off the field."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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