Maybe, just maybe, theBills will begin the regular season with their starting offensive line intact.
The Bills have dealt with a reshuffled line for much of the preseason. RT Erik Pears missed nearly all of training camp due to a groin injury but participated fully Wednesday. C Eric Wood has been held back as he recovers from a torn ACL but is rounding into form at the right time. And Kraig Urbik, who was a surprise non-participant at Wednesday's practice, said he had a minor back issue but would return fully Thursday.
Regarding Pears -- the biggest question of those three -- coach Chan Gailey said: “I fully expect him to play Sunday. I think that he's progressed well. ... As the week goes on, he'll either get stronger or weaker, and that will tell us how much he's going to play.”
The return of Pears on a full-time basis would be a major boost for the line. The eight-year pro was one of the team's most pleasant surprises in 2011, starting all 16 games after being picked up off waivers at the end of 2010.
“He's a really good player,” Gailey said. “He was very good for us last year, did a lot of good things. You need your good players back.”
Wood is looking forward to having the starting offensive line back in action.
“When we have all of us, we have a talented group,” Wood said. “We have talented backups. But this is an offensive line with Pears, myself and when Urbik gets back ... that played a lot of football together last year. Any time you can bring a lot of people back it definitely helps.”
Thigpen No. 2 QB (for now): As Tarvaris Jackson gets more accustomed to the Bills playbook following his trade to Buffalo, Tyler Thigpen will serve as the No. 2 QB against the Jets. Thigpen struggled for much of the preseason but bounced back in the preseason finale against Detroit.
Captains named: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Fred Jackson, DT Kyle Williams, SS George Wilson, P Brian Moorman and FB Corey McIntyre were named captains Wednesday. Moorman enters his seventh consecutive season as a special teams captain. Wilson is a defensive captain for the first time after serving as a special teams captain from 2008-11. Fitzpatrick, Jackson and Williams are captains for the second year in a row. McIntyre is a first-time captain.
Freakin' sweet: Fitzpatrick and DE Mario Williams recorded some lines for an upcoming Family Guy episode late Wednesday afternoon in a radio studio at One Bills Drive.