ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Coach Rex Ryan confirmed Monday that Buffalo Bills outside linebacker Shaq Lawson will return from a shoulder injury to practice Wednesday and could make his debut Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
"We'll see if he plays," Ryan said. "I thought initially, I'm like, 'Yeah, we waited this long for our first-round pick,' but we got to do the smart thing and do what's best for the young man, also."
Lawson, the No. 19 overall selection in April's draft, spent the first six weeks of the regular season on the physically unable to perform list. Monday was the first day that Lawson was eligible to return to practice. Once he practices Wednesday, the Bills will have 21 days to activate Lawson to their 53-man roster.
Veteran Lorenzo Alexander has started in Lawson's place in the Bills' first six games. Alexander, a longtime special-teams contributor for several teams, leads the NFL with 8.0 sacks and will retain his starting role after Lawson returns to the active roster, Ryan said Monday.
A former Clemson standout, Lawson was expected to be an opening-day starter in Buffalo's 3-4 defense when the Bills made him their first-round pick in April.
Lawson insisted immediately after being drafted that he would not need surgery on his right shoulder, but ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that Lawson aggravated the pre-existing condition while making a swim move on a tackling dummy in a noncontact drill during rookie minicamp.
Wide receiver Marcus Easley, who remains on the physically unable to perform list with a serious knee injury suffered last December, and rookie receiver Kolby Listenbee, who remains on the non-football injury list after sports hernia surgery, are also eligible to return to practice this week. But Ryan was unsure Monday whether either player would be cleared. The Bills have until Nov. 21 for both players to resume practicing.