Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 3/9/12
Amidst the whirlwind of signings of late, it's almost easy to forget that Buffalo ended the season with many of their prime players healing from the bumps and bruises of the game. Major names fell to season-ending injuries too often throughout the year and while it's wonderful that names like Steve Johnson and Scott Chandler have gotten so much attention lately, there are some still recovering in the off season. For those of you curious as to the status of some of the key players on the Buffalo Bills, here's an update on some of the more essential pieces for the upcoming 2012 season.

6. Roscoe Parrish - Originally slated by many to be the Robin to Stevie Johnson's Batman in 2011, the seventh year receiver was lost to a severe left ankle injury early in the year. One of the prime kick returners, as well as a sure-handed wide out, Parrish was forced to the bench the remainder of the year, making it the fourth consecutive season that injuries forced him out. He's played in fewer games each year (13 in 2008, 12 in 2009, 8 in 2010, and barely 2 in 2011) and though he'll likely still be on the roster come August, one more injured season could spell the end of his time in Buffalo. As of now, though, he is fully recovered and has been cleared to play... let's see how long that lasts.

5. Shawne Merriman - Lost to an Achilles injury after week 5, the controversial linebacker spent the remainder of the season undergoing surgeries to get him back up to snuff. In addition to the procedure to prevent his tendon from rupturing, Merriman also had some work done on his shoulder and hopes to be completely recovered and ready to play come training camp. Though it remains to be seen if Buffalo will retain Merriman (who will likely play defensive end in the new 4-3 scheme), he is back training and running on the road to recovery for 2012.

4. Rian Lindell - Man, this was a loss that few truly grasped. Mr Dependable, Lindell was lost to a shoulder injury (a broken bone) week 9 against the Jets, taking his 80.9% field goal percentage with him. Lucky for Bills fans, Lindell was healthy long enough in 2011 to kick the game winner against the Patriots week 3 (Buffalo's first win in 15 games) and actually went down trying to stop Jets running back Joe McKnight (he's one of those kickers who actually tries to prevent runners from getting past him). Signed to a new, four year deal in February, Lindell enters his 10th season with Buffalo content that he'll be there for good times now that his sure foot has guided them through the bad.

3 Kyle Williams - Lost to the same injury as Merriman, Buffalo's leading pass rusher and run blocker had a monster year in 2010, accounting for 77 tackles and 5.5 sacks. However, he played just five games before being forced into surgery to prevent a tear or rupture to his Achilles should he continue to play. The surgery was successful and Williams is reporting more range of motion in his ankle then he's had in years. Sure to become the anchor of the front four in 2012, he's out of the rehab pool and running on dry land now, ready to pair with Marcell Dareus in the 4-3 defense and wreak havoc on opposing QBs and running backs.

2. Eric Wood - When he went, so did Ryan Fitzpatrick's protection. After tearing his ACL against Dallas week 10, the carousel of the offensive line began spinning, with both Andy Levitre and Kraig Urbik filling in for mixed results. Wood is coming into his fourth year in the NFL, all with Buffalo, and is putting his full weight on the injury while running now, so he should be ready to go for training camp. This is great news for Fitz, who had just eight sacks before losing Wood and finished the season with 22.
Anyone else? Nope, I guess not... No one important left to talk about... Except, that is...

1.Fred Jackson - Suffered a broken leg against Miami and is still the number one free agent not signed by the Bills yet this off season. Though GM Buddy Nix said bringing him back was a priority, as of the writing of this, the undrafted Coe College running back still hadn't inked a deal. It's not that he's not ready to go either, as his fibula break is completely healed and he is already reporting that he is running at full strength again. In just under ten games last season, Jackson accounted for 1,376 yds of total offense (934 on the ground) and 6 rushing TDs. The leading rusher in the NFL when he went down, the 30 year old Jackson still has a few more years left in the tank if last season was any indication, so Buffalo should have his deal done well, well before the draft.

As the list of question marks grows shorter in Buffalo and the list of recovered players grows, the Bills are quickly looking like they'll be ready to compete come next season. What remains to be seen, though, is how long they can avoid the injury bug that so damaged them last year. Here's hoping they're conditioning coach has a new plan of attack this season, because watching an entire year of promise hobbled by breaks and tears again would be devastating. With the Bills finally looking to be headed in the right direction, let's wish them a little luck that we'll be able to see how good a healthy Buffalo team really is.

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