Bills rookie cornerback Ron Brooks said it's been painful watching his teammates play each of the first six games of the season without him. On Wednesday Brooks is not expected to be a spectator any longer. Cleared by Buffalo's medical staff Monday, the fourth-round pick is likely to practice today for the first time since breaking his foot back in August.
"We think we'll get him back to practice Wednesday so that'll be a positive," said head coach Chan Gailey.
Brooks was placed on injured reserve Sept. 4th after suffering a fractured foot, but was designated as the club's return player once healthy under new NFL rules. The earliest return he could make to practice is today, and the earliest he could be added back on the active roster is October 31st.
The LSU product said the initial injury likely happened early in training camp, but he played in three preseason games logging eight tackles, three pass breakups including an interception. Then two days before the final preseason game he could not put any weight on the foot.
"I played those three games with it then came out and couldn't practice," Brooks told Buffalobills.com. "I found out I had a fracture in my foot. I was shocked. I kind of wanted to stay away from surgery and keep playing if at all possible, but it wasn't so I just went ahead and had the surgery."
Brooks had a screw surgically implanted into his foot to promote faster healing and had the benefit of former college teammate Perry Riley, now a linebacker with the Redskins, suffering the same exact injury two years ago.
"He told me how the process would go," said Brooks. "He came back great from his injury so when he was telling me about all the things he had to go through and the process I wasn't discouraged because a lot of people have told me that it's not that hard of an injury to come back from. So my focus the whole time was getting back to 100 percent as quickly as I could."
The fleet-footed cornerback has been doing a lot of football-type movement training the past three weeks and feels he's ready for the practice setting this week.
"I've been working on my change of direction, straight ahead speed and putting that pressure back on my foot again," said Brooks. "I've been working with the doctors very closely. They say I look really good right now. I was released by the doctors Monday so it's up to the team as to when they want me to start practice."
Brooks is up to speed on the weekly game plans having sat in all the defensive meetings since Week 3, following strict orders to stay off the foot completely the first two weeks out of surgery.
Practicing Wednesday would serve as a welcome gift for Brooks after he turned 24 Tuesday.
"My birthday was on the 16th so it's like a birthday present really," he said. "I'm getting to come back and practice with these guys and fight with my team because I've been watching my team. Seeing those guys play you want to be out there playing so bad."
The Bills can make the decision to add Brooks back to the 53-man roster on Halloween, which would make the Week 9 game at Houston the first in which the cornerback could appear and make his NFL regular season debut.
"This is what I worked for my whole life," said Brooks. "I feel like I've had a pretty good showing in the preseason and I wanted to carry that into the season, but with the injury it didn't happen. It's feast or famine right now and I'm ready to go out and eat as much as possible. So I'm definitely going back out there to go claim my spot."