Bills center Eric Wood tears ACL

Updated: November 14, 2011, 7:06 PM ET
Associated Press

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Ryan Fitzpatrick and the upstart Buffalo Bills were able to defy expectations once before by getting off to a surprising start this season.

The quarterback doesn't see why they can't do it again, and this time in the midst of a midseason swoon and a growing list of injuries that now includes center Eric Wood, who will miss the rest of the year with a torn ligament in his right knee.

"Nobody expects anything out of us again," Fitzpatrick said Monday, a day after the Bills were left embarrassed following a 44-7 loss at Dallas. "We've got to play loose. We've got no pressure on us."

After getting off to a 4-1 start, Buffalo has dropped three of its past four heading into a trip to Miami (2-7) this weekend. The Bills' once-prolific offense is sputtering, their defense remains porous, and the injuries are depleting the team's depth, which was thin to begin with.

Wood was hurt Sunday, and becomes the third regular in as many weeks to be placed on injured reserve, joining starting defensive tackle Kyle Williams (foot) and linebacker Shawne Merriman (Achilles tendon).

Rookie linebacker Chris White will also miss the remainder of the season after tearing a ligament in his right knee as well against Dallas.

Wood said doctors are waiting for the swelling to subside before determining when to have surgery. It'll be the second season-ending operation Wood's had in his three years in Buffalo; he broke two bones in his left leg during his rookie season.

"It's definitely not something I wanted to go through again, another long rehab process," said Wood, who walked on crutches and had his knee in a brace. "But I'll do it. And I'll just look to come back stronger next year."

The initial prognosis is Wood will miss between seven and nine months, though the center said he's aiming to be ready for the start of training camp next summer.

The second of Buffalo's two first-round draft picks in 2009, Wood was hurt after Fitzpatrick threw his first of three interceptions late in the third quarter. Turning to chase down Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman, Wood said he was attempting to sidestep a Dallas player when he ran into linebacker DeMarcus Ware and fell awkwardly.

White was hurt while covering a punt earlier in the third quarter.

Coach Chan Gailey added that receiver Steve Johnson is day to day after he hurt his left shoulder in the fourth quarter and did not return. The status of safety George Wilson (stinger) is also uncertain this week.

Wood's injury is the most significant, and latest blow to an offense that's suddenly turned anemic. After opening the season by scoring 20 or more points in its first seven games, Buffalo has combined for 18 in its past two, including a 27-11 loss to the Jets.

Fitzpatrick is particularly struggling. After combining for nine touchdowns and four interceptions in his first four starts, he has seven touchdowns, nine interceptions and a lost fumble in his past five outings.

"We haven't shown up two weeks in a row. It's disheartening," Fitzpatrick said. "It's obviously not something that we saw coming or that we wanted to go out and lay two eggs in a row. You move on. We'll move on."

They'll do so with an offensive line that's already banged up.

Left guard Andy Levitre has spent the past three games starting at left tackle filling in for both starter Demetrius Bell (shoulder) and rookie backup Chris Hairston (ankle). Bell has not practiced since being hurt six weeks ago, while Hairston was left inactive the past two weeks.

Gailey said Levitre will likely make yet another positional switch and take over at center for Wood. Hairston is expected to return at left tackle.

The Bills defense isn't helping. It allowed 433 yards offense against Cowboys, the sixth time this season the unit's given up 400 or more yards. The Bills also failed to register a sack for the fifth time this season. They have 15 sacks, with 10 of them coming in a 23-0 win over Washington on Oct. 30.

Running back Fred Jackson remained confident the Bills can bounce back.

"It's not the end of the world for us," Jackson said. "We know we've got a lot to prove. There's still a lot of season left, and we have to go out and earn everything we get for the rest of the season. We know that, and it's a challenge we're looking forward to."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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