The Buffalo Bills made their long-awaited decision on star Tre’Davious White today, placing the cornerback on injured reserve to begin the season.
Today's roster moves ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/aBs1bzURPa
— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) August 30, 2022
The move means that the Bills will be without their star for the first four weeks of the season, severely testing their cornerback depth.
After Tre’Davious White tore his ACL in last year’s Thanksgiving game against the New Orleans Saints, the Buffalo defense rose to the occasion, particularly in the secondary. The passing defense was 2nd in the league from Week 13-18, allowing 143.7 yards per game, allowing just four passing touchdowns while recording three interceptions.
However, the schedule wasn’t particularly challenging over that stretch with games against New England, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Atlanta, and the New York Jets.
The Bills also had the veteran presence of Levi Wallace, who started alongside third-year-pro Dane Jackson. Wallace is now in Pittsburgh, so Jackson will start at one outside cornerback spot and either rookie first-round pick Kaiir Elam or rookie sixth-round pick Christian Benford at the other.
It’s a situation Buffalo has been preparing for, especially since they made it a priority to get Elam in the first round, but it’s not one that is ideal for a team hoping to win the Super Bowl this year.
With White now placed on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, the veteran will be out for the first four weeks and would not be able to practice until after the Week 4 game against Baltimore. As soon as he does start practicing, that would start a 21-day clock for the Bills to activate him to the 53-man roster or keep him on Reserve/PUP for the entire season.
It seems far more likely that White will miss more than four games since the team would be hard-pressed to expect him to play in Week 5 against Pittsburgh after just three days of full practice. He could return in Week 6 against Kansas City or sit out through the team’s bye and return in Week 8 in time to face the Green Bay Packers.
Either way, Buffalo fans will likely need to envision a team without Tre’Davious White for two months. That will put extra pressure on the tremendous safety duo of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. It will also mean that this revamped defensive line will need to put more pressure on the quarterback to prevent teams from having lots of time to throw against the rookie corners.
It’s also not a given that this is the secondary Buffalo will go into the playoffs with. The team could still make a waiver claim on any number of veteran cornerbacks who were released today, in hopes of finding somebody who could help hold down the fort until White is back.
At the end of the day, while this might not be the move that Bills fans wanted to hear, it is one that best sets them up to have a full-strength All-Pro cornerback for the second half of the season and playoff run. With the team having big goals this season, how this team is playing in December and January is likely going to be more important than how they start the season.