The Buffalo Bills placed two rookie draft picks on the season-ending injured reserve list Sunday, and could be down to one healthy tight end after Michael Matthews limped off the field during practice.
In announcing receiver Marcus Easley and linebacker Danny Batten have been placed on I.R., coach Chan Gailey said both are expected to miss too much of the regular season for the team to carry them on the active roster.
Easley, a fourth-round pick out of Connecticut, is recovering since having surgery to repair a left knee injury he sustained Aug. 2. Batten, a sixth-round pick out of South Dakota State, has been out since hurting his right shoulder in practice on Aug. 1.
"Obviously, it's not what we wanted, but it's just something that had to be done looking at the long-term prognosis," Gailey said. "We just couldn't see time-wise that it was going to benefit them to try to make it back this year."
Losing Easley is the biggest blow because he was considered to have an outside shot at competing for the team's No. 2 job when camp opened on July 29.
The moves do allow the Bills to free up room on their roster to add players, particularly at tight end.
Matthews was hurt when he turned his ankle while running a route. After having his ankle wrapped by trainers, Matthews attempted to walk on the injured foot before being escorted to the locker room.
Gailey said it's premature to discuss the severity of the injury until after the player has tests on Monday.
The Bills are already short on tight ends.
Derek Schouman is expected to miss three to six weeks after hurting his right knee in a 34-21 preseason victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday. A day later, the team learned that tight end Shawn Nelson will miss the first four regular season games after being suspended by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Nelson is already nursing an injury that has prevented him from practicing the past two days.
And then there's tight end Joe Klopfenstein, who was placed on injured reserve a week before training camp opened.
That currently leaves the Bills with Jonathan Stupar as their only tight end eligible to play for the start of the season. The Bills are expected to sign at least one tight end this week in preparation for their preseason game against Cincinnati on Saturday.
Once Matthews left practice, Gailey was forced to use fullbacks at the tight end position.
"We've got one healthy tight end on the field right now and it makes it very difficult," Gailey said. "But that's part of it. You deal with it and go on."
Starting free safety Jairus Byrd has still not attended practice since having surgery last week to repair a groin injury. Gailey said the operation went smoothly, but Byrd is still laid up.
Gailey hasn't ruled out Byrd recovering in time for the start of the season.