Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- Throughout the regular season in 2011, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson had to play through the pain of a groin injury numerous times. He had hoped that the soreness would go away after minor off-season surgery, but it appears the discomfort lingers.
After being listed as a limited participant during Wednesday's session, Thursday was a step back for the Bills' top receiving target. Dressed in his normal shorts and jersey, Johnson's helmet was nowhere to be found, merely serving as a bystander watching his pass-catching brethren go through positional drills.
After practice, head coach Chan Gailey discussed the status of his top receiver.
"He got tight [Wednesday]. He could have gone out there today, we kept him out. We think he'll be back out [Friday], be back Saturday and be ready to go Sunday. That's what we think. That's what's anticipated."
While Johnson said he wasn't going to talk about the current problems with the groin injury, he did say trainers told him to expect some tightness from time to time.
"That’s what they said," Johnson said Thursday. "It’s natural for something like this to happen, but it’ll definitely be gone and nothing we should really have too much worry about."
Even though the prognosis looks good from an anticipatory standpoint, Gailey admits there is some concern:
"Always. A guy doesn't practice on Thursday there's always concern," he said. "But I think it's going to be okay."
"It’s a long season. If I was to play or I wasn’t we’ve still got another 16 or so games to play and hopefully the playoffs," Johnson added. "But I’m not trying to miss this game at all. I don’t think I will."
He doesn't anticipate the injury will be a nagging one like it was throughout the 2011 campaign. Johnson was the only Bills player not to practice on Thursday, riding the stationary bike at the beginning portion of practice.
Right guard Kraig Urbik (low back) was back to practice on Thursday. He was a limited participant in repetitions, but Gailey said barring any setbacks that Urbik would in fact play on Sunday.
Brad Smith has progressed with his groin injury that was suffered a week ago in Detroit. Gailey remarked that he's very encouraged by how the quarterback and wide receiver looked on Thursday.
"He moved around great today," the head coach said. "We got some time in with our Wildcat. That part of it was good. He took some reps at receiver. I was shocked how well he looked today."
Smith was officially listed as limited for Thursday's practice.
Gailey also said right tackle Erik Pears (groin) and cornerback Terrence McGee (knee) reacted well to the team's padded practice on Wednesday, and were able to fully participate on Thursday.
The Bills take on the New York Jets for their regular season opener on Sunday, September 9.