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Bills QB Edwards will start vs. Titans, but ailing T.O. might not

Trent Edwards is back as the Buffalo Bills' starting quarterback, though he might be missing his top receiving threat after Terrell Owens missed practice Wednesday because of a strained hip.  

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Trent Edwards is back as the Buffalo Bills' starting quarterback, though he might be missing his top receiving threat after Terrell Owens missed practice Wednesday because of a strained hip.

Bills coach Dick Jauron said Owens' hip began bothering him during the team's day off Tuesday and noted that the wide receiver was feeling "very uncomfortable" when he arrived for meetings Wednesday. It's unclear how Owens was hurt because he practiced Monday after the team returned from a four-day break following its bye week.

Jauron wasn't sure if Owens would be able to practice as the Bills (3-5) prepare to play the Tennessee Titans (2-6) on Sunday.

"We're kind of hoping it goes away as quickly as it came," Jauron said. "We really won't know any more until tomorrow."

Owens declined to speak to reporters when he made a brief appearance in the locker room after practice. He hasn't missed a game this season since signing a one-year deal with the Bills in March, but he did miss the final four preseason games because of an injured toe.

One of the NFL's most prolific receivers, Owens has failed to provide a spark to what has been a sputtering Buffalo offense, which ranks among the NFL's worst. With 23 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns, including one rushing, Owens' numbers for the first half of the season are his lowest since 1996, his rookie year with the San Francisco 49ers.

Owens' injury overshadowed other developments as the Bills attempt to make a second-half push to climb back into playoff contention.

Jauron announced Wednesday that Edwards will start against the Titans, having reclaimed the quarterback job after missing two games with a concussion. And second-year receiver James Hardy's comeback is complete after he was activated from the physically-unable-to-perfom list 11 months since tearing a ligament in his left knee.

In switching quarterbacks, Jauron said Edwards "earned the right" to start after the Bills' offense continued to struggle under backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, who took over during a 16-13 overtime victory over the New York Jets on Oct. 18.

Fitzpatrick rallied the Bills to beat the Jets, then went 1-1 in two starts, but Buffalo's offense failed to generate much of an attack during a 20-9 victory at Carolina, followed by a 31-10 loss to the Houston Texans two weeks ago. In those two games, the Bills generated a combined 371 yards and 18 first downs.

"Certainly, if you had an offense that scored 40 points a game, I don't know that you'd start fooling with it," Jauron said. "But all that being said, that's not what happened."

Though the offense has struggled no matter who has started at quarterback, Jauron noted that Edwards showed signs of improvement before he was hurt and after the Bills scrapped their no-huddle attack.

Edwards is eager to play after having spent the past two weeks practicing.

Having a chance to watch tape of his first six games, Edwards noticed he was having trouble with his accuracy and footwork and was inconsistent reading opposing defenses.

"Those things can kind of get out of whack when you start losing football games," Edwards said.

Edwards particularly struggled in the three games before he was hurt, a stretch in which he went 50-of-92 passing for 500 yards and one touchdown with five interceptions.

Hardy was eager to return, too, but it's unclear how he will fit in on a team that's carrying seven receivers.

"I feel great. This is the best I've ever felt, period," said Hardy, who was cleared after spending the past three weeks practicing with the team. "It's been a long process, but I'm glad it's over. Now I'm just ready to get back on this field."

A second-round draft pick out of Indiana last year, Hardy has been out since tearing a ligament in his left knee during a 31-27 loss to the Jets in December. He finished with nine catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games.

To make roster room for Hardy, the Bills waived third-string running back Xavier Omon, a sixth-round draft pick last year.

Notes: S Donte Whitner, who has missed two games with an ankle injury, isn't sure whether he'll be ready to return this weekend. ... DE Aaron Schobel continues to miss practice after hurting his groin against the Texans. ... Other starters missing practice Wednesday were CB Terrence McGee (knee surgery), LB Keith Ellison (quadriceps) and DT Kyle Williams (right knee).

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