By Abraham GutierrezWith rain and frigid conditions in the forecast, the Miami Dolphins will have an uphill battle when they travel to Ralph Wilson Stadium to take on the Buffalo Bills in the penultimate game of the 2013 NFL regular season.

However, if Thursday’s injury reports are any indication, the Fins may be getting a bit of a break, as one player’s absence may prove to be the difference between a successful trip to Orchard Park and a major disappointment.

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Buffalo Bills Mid-Week Injury Report

According to Buffalo’s late-week 16 injury report, the Bills could be without the services of at least two key players in their attempt to spoil Miami’s Wild Card hopes. One of them is starting quarterback EJ Manuel, who continues to nurse a balky knee that has kept him out of practice all week.

While reports indicate the Florida State product will not play, his official status will not become available until Friday afternoon. Nevertheless, initial reports aren’t very encouraging, as all indications are that Manuel will be a DNP.

With so much riding on this game, it’s no secret that the Dolphins’ defense would catch a break if he’s forced to sit out this week. Manuel, who has completed 180-of-306 passes for 1,972 yards and 13 touchdowns, makes the Bills attack much more effective and multi-dimensional.

His ability to abandon the pocket and become a playmaker enables this run-first offense to methodically move the sticks and control time of possession. Not only does that wear defenses down, but under inclement weather conditions, it also makes it a miserable outing for everyone involved.

With Manuel out, backup quarterback Thad Lewis would likely get the nod, as he gets his second start against Miami this season. Although he led his team to a 23-21 victory at Sun Life Stadium in Week 7, it was anything but pretty.

The second-year man out of Duke completed 21-of-32 passes for 202 yards, zero touchdowns, had one interception, was sacked four times, and fumbled the football on three occasions.

Aside from Manuel, there were three other Bills players who did not participate in practice this week: Cornerback Aaron Williams (ribs), wide receiver Stevie Johnson (personal) and linebacker Arthur Moats (personal). While Williams’ game-status remains uncertain, Johnson and Moats will likely see action, as their absences were not injury related.

Another key offensive player was limited this week, as running back Fred Jackson (ribs) returned to practice for the first time on Thursday. His status will also be announced shortly after the team submits its final injury report Friday afternoon.

Finally, there were three Bills players who, despite being slowed by injury, were able to participate in full team practices: defensive tackles Marcell Dareus (ankle) and Kyle Williams (Achilles), and cornerback Brandon Smith (ankle).

Miami Dolphins Mid-Week Injury Report

From Miami’s perspective, Fins fans should only be concerned about two players who did not practice this week. According to Joe Philbin’s staff, cornerback Brent Grimes (groin) and running back Daniel Thomas (ankle) sat out this week’s preparations for the Bills, likely leading to DNPs on game day. If so, the Dolphins would miss their interceptions-leader, and the team’s second leading rusher.

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In 14 starts this season, Grimes has recorded 49 tackles (42 solo) and 4 interceptions for 102 yards and a pick-six. Thomas, on the other hand, has contributed with 400 yards on 98 carries (4.1 Avg.) and is the team-leader rushing TD honors.

Also in danger of missing Sunday’s crucial game are four players who were limited to less than 100 percent of the snaps. Those with limited participation in practice include: Cornerbacks Nolan Carroll (knee) and Jamar Taylor (hamstring), defensive tackle Paul Soliai (ankle) and safety Chris Clemons (knee/hamstring).

Finally, Miami’s defense is happy to report that two hobbled players were able to go 100 percent this week, which is always an encouraging sign. Placed under the “Full Participation in Practice” list were: defensive end Olivier Vernon (ankle) and safety Reshad Jones (groin).

Buffalo Bills Injury Report Recap (Week 16)

Did Not Participate in Practice

  • (QB) EJ Manuel (Knee)
  • (CB) Aaron Williams (Ribs)
  • (WR) Stevie Johnson (Personal)
  • (LB) Arthur Moats (Personal)

Limited Participation in Practice

  • (RB) Fred Jackson (Ribs)

Full Participation in Practice

  • (DT) Marcell Dareus (Ankle)
  • (DT) Kyle Williams (Achilles)
  • (CB) Brandon Smith (Ankle)

Miami Dolphins Injury Report Recap (Week 16)

Did Not Participate in Practice

  • (CB) Brent Grimes (Groin)
  • (RB) Daniel Thomas (Ankle)

Limited Participation in Practice

  • (CB) Nolan Carroll (Knee)
  • (CB) Jamar Taylor (Hamstring)
  • (DT) Paul Soliai (Ankle)
  • (S) Chris Clemons (knee/hamstring)

Full Participation in Practice

  • (DE) Olivier Vernon (Ankle)
  • (S) Reshad Jones (Groin)

Practice Reference Key

  • DNP: Did not participate in practice.
  • LP: Limited Participation in Practice – Less than 100 percent of a player’s normal repetitions.
  • FP: Full Participation – 100 percent of a player’s normal repetitions.
  • Out: Player will not play.
  • Not Listed: No practice status available.

For more Dolphins news and updates, visit Dolphins Central.

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Abe Gutierrez is a criminal justice admin whose love for sports led him to become a writer and editor. His expertise make him a valued addition to and its partners. His work can be found on .