ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Bills already understand the daunting challenge they face Sunday in hosting the dominating and undefeated New England Patriots. Now they might have to do so minus their top offensive threat: running back Marshawn Lynch.
Coach Dick Jauron on Wednesday all but ruled out Lynch from playing after the rookie missed practice because of a severely sprained left ankle.
"It's very sore right now and I would say we're not overly optimistic," Jauron said, referring to the chances of Lynch playing.
Jauron then raised concerns that the injury, which Lynch got in a 13-10 win at Miami on Sunday, might be severe enough to keep him out for more than one week.
Not having Lynch this weekend would be a substantial blow to the Bills (5-4), who have won four straight and five of six, and have come to rely on the spark the rookie has provided to an otherwise sputtering offense.
Lynch leads the team with six touchdowns and ranks fifth in the NFL with 751 yards rushing. With a touchdown passing, he's had a hand in seven of 10 offensive TDs the Bills have scored this season.
He played a particularly key role in helping the Bills overcome a 10-2 fourth-quarter deficit against Miami. After scoring on a 3-yard run and following it up with a 2-point conversion, Lynch was hurt while helping set up the decisive drive, capped by Rian Lindell's 34-yard field goal.
"We know he's a very unique player. He's got unique skills. And we hate to play the game without him," Jauron said. "If he can't go, we've got to believe the guys we have can play and perform well."
Wright ranks second on the team with 76 yards rushing this season. He's appeared in eight games and has been used on special teams and giving Lynch an occasional breather.
Thomas has 10 carries for 12 yards and has mostly been used as a blocking back and in third-down situations.
"I'm just going to pick up the flag and show my part of what I can do," Wright said. "I believe that I can step in and do the same things."
Wright will have to, because the Bills hope to establish a ball-control attack to keep the Patriots pass-happy and very potent offense off the field.