The Buffalo Bills have been struggling to contain a mysterious illness that’s hindered its roster ahead of its rival game against the New England Patriots on Thursday night. Monday’s practice saw five players, including cornerback Dane Jackson, call out sick.  

‘It’s out there, right?’ coach Sean McDermott told reporters on Monday. ‘Families have it and these guys are human beings so they pick it up sometimes, too.’ Buffalo has also been dealing with an extensive number of injuries within the last couple of weeks. On Thanksgiving Day, linebacker Von Miller was sidelined with a knee injury in the Bills’ 28-25 win over the Detroit Lions. 

It’s the second time in two weeks that five players on the Bills have fallen ‘ill’ and have had to miss practice after the absences of defensive linesmen Jordan Philipps and Tom Settle, linebacker Matt Milano, defensive back Cam Lewis and fullback Reggie Gilliam last Wednesday.

‘Von will not play this week, and we’ll just see where it goes from there,’ McDermott said. ‘There will be more testing and whatnot that gets involved. But I’ll just keep it at that for now.’ At linebacker, Tremaine Edmunds has missed Buffalo’s past two games with groin and heel injuries and Matt Milano has missed time with an oblique injury.

Safety Micah Hyde is out for the year with a neck injury, safety Jordan Poyer missed games on two separate occasions with an elbow injury. And cornerbacks Christian Benford, Cam Lewis and Dane Jackson have also been injured. Benford was placed on injured reserve on Saturday with an oblique injury.

Injuries have affected every position group on the defense for Buffalo this season. The Bills opened the NFL season with a banged-up secondary. Top cornerback Tre’Davious White missed the first 10 games of the season as he made his way back from a torn ACL. White played for the first time on Thanksgiving with limited snaps and could receive more playing time against New England. 

On the defensive line, the news isn’t all bad for the Billers  Miller is out, but others are returning. Buffalo’s other starting defensive end, Greg Rousseau, practiced Wednesday after missing the previous three games with a high ankle sprain. A.J. Epenesa is getting closer to returning from an ankle injury as well. 

The Bills were back in Detroit for Thanksgiving after the NFL shifted their previous home game against Cleveland to the Lions’ home base because of a winter storm dumping several feet of snow in western New York. 

Meanwhile, Buffalo’s (8-3) two straight wins against Detroit and the Cleveland Browns have moved on par with Miami in the AFC East. Lying in last place in the division are the Patriots, who are 6-5 overall.

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