Bills offensive guard Rodger Saffold is starting to feel back to his normal self after missing several training camp practices at St. John Fisher University. A few weeks before camp, Saffold was in a car accident in Los Angeles and sustained a rib injury.
It wasn't until Saffold was in Buffalo that he discovered he would miss the start of camp.
"I needed to do some further testing to really be sure," Saffold said of finding out the severity of the injury. "And after doing that further testing, they were telling me that I'm going to need to take some time off in order to let that my ribs heal."
The guard was activated off the NFI list on Sunday, Aug. 7 and began the ramp up period to becoming a full participant in practices. The 13-year veteran said there is still some soreness, but he's excited to be back with his teammates.
"Our trainers have done a fantastic job of bringing me in slowly," Saffold shared. "I'm just gaining more and more confidence every day."
Saffold wasn't the only offensive lineman that missed practices in the beginning of training camp. Guard Ryan Bates and tackle Spencer Brown also did not participate in a number of practices as they worked their way back from injury.
Now that the group is feeling healthier, they're able to work on creating chemistry before the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
Saffold is new to the team but does have some connections to the roster that are making the transition easier. The guard played for offensive line coach Aaron Kromer in 2017 when he was with the Rams and played with left tackle Dion Dawkins at the Pro Bowl in February. Thanks to these connections, Saffold isn't feeling too worried about playing with an entirely new offensive line.
"Things work in mysterious ways," Saffold shared. "I was able to play with Dion at the Pro Bowl and we actually played on the left and the right side. So, I think I was able to gel with him pretty quickly. As far as Mitch goes, when you talk about two veterans, you guys are able to click a little bit faster than some of the normal guys when it comes down to terminology. And also being with Aaron Kromer, obviously, I'm able to fit this system pretty well. So it's actually been easier than I ever thought it could be."
Head coach Sean McDermott thinks Saffold's veteran presence will help him adapt to the group quickly.
"I think the one advantage we have that is, he's worked with Kromer before, so they're in alignment for the most part on terminology techniques," McDermott said. "And sometimes being able to watch a little bit does help you get a feel for who your teammates are, what we're trying to get done offensively big picture wise. But at the end of the day you need to be in, and you need to be in in order to develop. And I think that's the phase that Rodger is in now is knocking some of the rust off, get his conditioning back, and just moving and making those football movements as opposed to what he was doing before and not doing, so it's good to see."
In terms of the group's talent level this season, Saffold thinks the group can be a big help to the offense.
"There's no limit to what we can be," Saffold said. "But we got to decide where we want to be, and then we have to attack it. We've got to be able to trust technique and then just trust the program, trust the process. And as long as we're working together and communicating, we'll be able to do the job."