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Bills uncertain if Stevie Johnson will play against the Bengals

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Johnson has crushed the Bengals in the past but he might not play this weekend.

Andy Lyons

While Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd is expected to make his season debut after dealing with plantar fasciitis this season, wide receiver Stevie Johnson is a much bigger unknown at this point.

Johnson returned to California this week to deal with a death in the family. He hasn't practiced yet this week and isn't expected to be back in Buffalo in time for practice on Friday. Compounding the issue is that Johnson suffered a lower-back injury against the Cleveland Browns last Thursday.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone labeled it a "tough call" if Johnson will play.

"I'll get ready to call him here in a little bit. You know, see how he's doing," Marrone said via Buffalo News. "Obviously he's working on getting treatment out there. I really don't know until he comes back and we're able to talk with him and see how he feels. It's quite a long travel for him, to Oakland and back, so I really don't know."

Marrone added that Johnson is working with wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard about the team's gameplan and Johnson has film with him to study.

In two games against the Bengals, Johnson has 12 receptions for 195 yards receiving, including a three-score performance in 2010.

As for Byrd, he was a full participant on Thursday while defensive lineman Kyle Williams was upgraded as a full participant and running back C.J. Spiller remained limited. Spiller is recovering from an injury that he suffered against the Jets, which has limited his participation in practice recently.