The Bills over the last few seasons have been plagued with injuries. A lot of guys were out for a game or two, a lot out for the season, and some playing through the injuries, but clearly losing production. The fact of the matter is there will never be an injury free year for any team, it’s all about the second string guy rising to the challenge, and trying to fill the shoes of whoever was once there.
Over the last two years if there are two guys that come to mind in terms of injury, it’s Shawne Merriman and Marcus Easley. Guys with all the potential to be huge threats to opposing teams, but just haven’t had the chance to consistently step in and contribute. I think that could change this year for at least one of these guys, if not both.
I’m not trying to make any bold predictions here, or saying that without a doubt these guys are going to be exactly who we have hoped that they will, but I think they deserve more of a chance than most fans give them.
Here is a guy who was one of the best at his respective roles in the game. He is a guy that no offensive front could seem to slow down as he got to the quarterback time and time again in San Diego. Over the last few years he has been dealing with a nagging Achilles injury that has kept him sidelined for the better part of his time in Buffalo — but don’t lose hope quite yet, I know I haven’t, and neither has Buddy. If Buddy had no hope Shawne wouldn’t be on the roster, I almost guarantee that.
If you don’t know, Merriman underwent season ending surgery for his Achilles last fall and it seemed like everyone was saying “here we go again.” I don’t think that is the right mindset to have. I was glad that he had the surgery, not because he was out for the year, but because surgery can fix issues that rehab cannot, and it was clear that the rehab hadn’t ever gotten him back to 100%. I understand that there is no guarantee that the surgery will fully rehabilitate him either, but I still think that the chances of him playing this season have greatly increased, and I’m optimistic that Tom Brady will be watching the Lights Out dance on the big screen from his back!
Marcus Easley is a guy that I have a ton of optimism towards. He was a fourth round draft pick who seemed to be a steal at that spot at the time. This is a guy who has exactly what we need for a second wideout if he can get healthy and stay on the field. He has a big frame at 6’3” and 210 lbs. and is extremely fast, with a 4.39-40 time at the combine in 2010.
So at this point all the doubters are saying, “This guy hasn’t seen any playing time at all in the NFL,” or along the same lines “He is constantly sidelined by something, how can you have any hope that he will perform?” I say there is a huge difference between Easley and other players who have sat out two consecutive seasons. Easley sat out his first year after a season ending knee surgery, but his second year was for a completely unrelated medical issue.
At this point the knee should be fine, and they say that the heart condition that kept him off the field this past year is also no longer an issue. That being said, I see absolutely no reason to doubt that Easley will be able to come in and make a difference on the field this coming season. Don’t get me wrong — he is still an unproven player at this level, but Easley isn’t a chronic injury type player, he is a guy who got unlucky a couple years in a row. Now he will have the opportunity to come out and prove why the Bills drafted him, and why they have kept him on the roster.
I admit I am eternal optimist when it comes to the Buffalo Bills, but I really do believe what I have written here, and I think both of these guys can contribute this fall. Of course only time will tell, but I hope that when the playoffs come around in the beginning of 2013 I can look back and say “I told you so.”
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