ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) – Bills receiver Eric Moulds was suspended without pay for Sunday’s game against the Patriots, apparently for a sideline dispute with an assistant coach during last week’s loss to Miami.

“Eric hasn’t practiced this week so he won’t be ready to play Sunday.

“He is suspended for one game without pay,” owner Ralph Wilson said Thursday after a meeting with Moulds and head coach Mike Mularkey.

“From there on, he’ll be back and will play the final three games of the season, which I hope we’ll do better than we have so far.”

Moulds’ adviser, Greg Johnson, said the one-game suspension will cost the player about $93,000. As part of the suspension, Moulds will not practice with the team for the rest of the week.

Mularkey had barred Moulds from practice the last two days. Mularkey would not say why he was punishing Moulds, but it’s believed to stem from an argument between the player and receivers coach Tyke Tolbert during Buffalo’s 24-23 loss at Miami.

Johnson said the dispute occurred when Moulds left the field after experiencing pain in his Achilles’ tendon. Moulds wanted to have the tendon examined by a trainer when Tolbert asked Moulds to get back on the field, Johnson said. Moulds declined and was benched for most of the final three quarters.

Moulds is a 10-year veteran, all with Buffalo. He is the team’s senior player and a three-time Pro Bowl selection who ranks second to Andre Reed in most of the Bills’ career receiving categories.

The Bills (4-8) are on the verge of missing the playoffs for the sixth straight season. They have lost five of their last six and are coming off a loss in which they blew a 21-3 fourth-quarter lead.

Moulds failed to make a catch against the Dolphins, ending his streak for receptions at a franchise-record 121 games. It was the fourth-longest active streak, a list led by Indianapolis’ Marvin Harrison at 151.

Moulds’ production is down this season, although he leads the team with 54 catches for 511 yards. He also has three touchdowns, second to Lee Evans’ six.

Moulds’ future was already uncertain beyond this season. He has one year left on his contract and would take up $11 million of salary-cap space next season – a figure deemed too expensive for Buffalo unless the player renegotiated.

Johnson said the suspension shouldn’t affect Moulds’ future, saying the player wants to continue playing for Buffalo.

“Eric’s looking forward to being a Buffalo Bill as he always has – a Buffalo Bill for life,” Johnson said.

Evans, Buffalo’s 2004 first-round pick, is expected to fill Moulds’ spot Sunday. He’s coming off a career game in which he had 117 yards receiving and three touchdowns – all in the first quarter.

AP-ES-12-08-05 1754EST


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