As the Buffalo Bills finish their final days at St. John Fischer and head to Orchard Park to prepare for their first preseason game, a couple of questions still loom over the team’s quest for a Super Bowl Championship.
The biggest of those is whether or not the team has the cornerback talent and depth to keep up with the elite offenses on their schedule, including the Los Angeles Rams, who the Bills will face in Week 1.
At the center of the entire cornerback discussion is the health of Pro Bowl corner Tre’Davious White, who tore his ACL last season. White began training camp on the PUP list, but the Buffalo Bills claim he’s “right on schedule” in terms of his recovery. However, the team has not been forthcoming about what that means in terms of when the team is likely to see him back on the field.
Considering, White tore his ACL at the end of November, a nine-month recovery would put White back on the field in early September. With the Buffalo Bills thinking long-term as they try to win a Super Bowl, it’s conceivable that they would give White a few more weeks to ensure he’s back to 100%, which could mean an October return is more likely.
With the team set to face the Rams, Dolphins, Ravens, and Chiefs in four of the first six games of the season, having White on the boundary will be of primary importance.
It becomes even more important due to the reported struggles of rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam in training camp. Elam made headlines early in camp when he went toe-to-toe with Stefon Diggs. However, his performance has been inconsistent since then, getting targeted often by Josh Allen when he goes up against the first-team offense.
Now, a rookie losing battles to Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and Gabriel Davis just a week into his NFL career isn’t a sign of a bust. However, it does suggest that the Buffalo Bills may not want to throw Elam right into the fire in Week 1 against Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson. The rookie will have a few more weeks to show how he can respond to early adversity, but if he continues to struggle, it could be a big problem.
The team is likely to start Dane Jackson as the other cornerback until Tre’Davious White returns, but Elam’s only competition to start opposite Jackson is now sixth-round rookie Christian Benford. Benford has been impressive so far in camp, but having to start a sixth-round rookie over your first-round pick would not be a good start to a year with such high expectations for the Buffalo Bills.
With all three cornerbacks rumored to be playing in Saturday’s first preseason game, the organization and their fans will get a clear look at how each cornerback fares in game action against opponents. That could go a long way towards highlighting if this is an issue that fans will need to worry about.