Tre’Davious White didn’t have much to be thankful for on November 25th, 2021, as his holiday plans involved an early trip to the locker room and a premature end to the season. His torn ACL came as a shock to no-one who saw him go down, but Buffalo Bills fans couldn’t have known how much we needed him. His help could have made all the difference in a shootout against the Kansas City Chiefs in January. Now, our beloved goalie returns.
Guess Who’s Back?
After almost an entire year, the Buffalo Bills will finally be reunited with our All-Pro cornerback. On October 12th, the Buffalo Bills opened the 21-day practice window for Tre White, initiating his return from the PUP list. He wasn’t going to play against Kansas City, and the bye week gave him some much-needed practice time. Since then, he’s been working towards game speed.
He’s expected to return to the lineup officially by October 29th, but his game day status is up in the air. The general consensus, however, is that he’ll see real game action in only five days time. When that happens, what can we expect to see on the field?
Return to Action
Tre’Davious White must be activated to the roster by Tuesday, November 1st. Otherwise, he’ll be returned to the injured reserve and declared out season. The Buffalo Bills won’t miss that deadline, but Tre may not be at 100% right off the bat. Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier took questions at a press conference, and cleared some things up for us.
“It will be a gradual process when he comes back.”– Leslie Frazier To Reporters (Oct 24, 2022)
Frazier referred to the doctors in regards to White’s game day eligibility, but he’s aware that even though he may be healthy, he’s missed a great deal of time. He needs practice reps and and gradual progression to return to the game speed that he’s used to playing at. Cornerback is a reactive position, and the reflexes needed to play effectively can’t be rushed. Luckily for the Buffalo Bills, we have surprisingly effective depth.
Managing His Comeback
Frazier had glowing remarks for the rookie cornerbacks filling out this defensive back room, and their play thus far. In the offseason, cornerback was a position of desperate need for the team. Now, it seems to be a strength. Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford have brought immediate youth and talent to this position group. Their success makes Tre’Davious White’s return a little easier.
“Both Kaiir [Elam] and Christian [Benford] have done a terrific job for us.”– Leslie Frazier To Reporters (Oct 24, 2022)
After a year on the sidelines with his leg in a cast, we should expect White to play limited snaps for the next few weeks. They may ramp up his workload, but starting small is the only reasonable way to combat potential re-injury. Have him play a series or two, here or there, throughout the game. Use the opportunity to keep our depth functionally fresh and rotate out Dane Jackson, Christian Benford, and Kaiir Elam as needed. This team has been cautious to excess with all injuries this season. Expect no difference here.
As the next few weeks pass, his workload should gradually ramp up. Tre White played 100% of snaps in all games he was healthy for over the last few seasons, but he can’t be expected to jump back to it immediately.
In Good Company
The sudden quality of depth at the cornerback position raises another an excellent issue for the Buffalo Bills. When Tre’Davious White does return to the field full-time, who lines up as our other outside corner?
Dane Jackson certainly has a case, as the incumbent CB1 in Tre’s absence. Christian Benford cannot be overlooked either, but he could be expected to take a backseat out of the group.
More likely than not, the Bills already have their answer: Kaiir Elam. Elam’s snap count is already the highest on the team out of any cornerback, as he was the only one healthy for every game this season. He’s stepped up his game as the season progressed, and seems to be shouldering his new responsibility with grace. We don’t have a definitive answer yet, but it seems Elam would get the nod.
Season Outlook for Tre’Davious White
Tre’s role could shift as the season progresses, considering the loss of Micah Hyde and the success of our defensive back depth. Though he’s on track to return to full strength as our starting cornerback, there is always a concern about losing a step with an ACL injury, especially when playing a reactive position like cornerback. If he’s not quite as quick as he was, or less reflexive, there is a chance he could be transitioned to free safety to replace Hyde for the season. The success of our new young cornerbacks could allow for this move, but doesn’t necessitate it.
Realistically, however, the team will gradually up his snap count until the team, doctors, and Tre’Davious White himself are all satisfied that he’s fully recovered. Then, he’ll be the cornerback we’ve grown to love since 2017.
There’s no need to rush things, with Super Bowl aspirations on the line. Tre will be rejoining a Buffalo Bills defense that has allowed 13.5 points per game this season so far (the lowest in the NFL). The sky may not be the limit after all, folks.
“Nowadays, everybody wanna talk like they got something to say,– Eminem, if he were a Bills fan (probably)
But nothing comes out when they move their lips,
Just a bunch of gibberish,
And mother****ers act like they forgot about Tre.”
Enjoyed this piece? Check out last week’s Buffalo Bulletin on extending Tremaine Edmunds!
The Buffalo Bulletin on Buffalo Fanatics is a weekly editorial by Iestyn Harris. Check back regularly for hot topics, riveting discussion, and, occasionally, some actual insight.
Featured Image: AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes