Tre'Davious White isn't ready to declare when he'll make his long-awaited return to the field, but one thing he's sure of is that he left no stone unturned during his nearly year-long recovery from an ACL tear.
"I bust my ass during this process," he said.
The Bills cornerback spoke to the media for over 15 minutes after Wednesday's practice, detailing where he's at physically and mentally during his rehab process. The 2-time Pro Bowler was activated to the Bills' 53-man roster Tuesday afternoon, signaling his return is on the horizon.
How close? That's still unclear as the 6-1 Buffalo Bills travel to play the 5-3 New York Jets in an important AFC East showdown this Sunday. White — along with GM Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott who also spoke Wednesday — maintained that he is still day-to-day.
"Just listen to my body, listen to the medical staff and just go from there," White said. "I'm just taking it a day at a time. That approach has been working for me. So I'm just going to keep it that way."
The Bills opened up White's 21-day activation window on Oct. 13, allowing the corner to return to practice with the team. His ramp-up has been guided by the Bills medical staff to ensure that White's body is able to handle the rigors of jumping right into the middle of a season.
As both Beane and McDermott noted Wednesday, White didn't have the normal amount of time for offseason training as his teammates did, so the priority has been approaching his rehab with a day-by-day mentality and adjusting if needed.
The daunting recovery was both a mental and physical obstacle for the defensive back.
"Definitely more the physical because you just got to get back out there. You got to get back to moving, you gotta work it out. Basically have to build my body back up from the ground up," White said.
"It was a different challenge. And it's something that I woke up every day, ready to kick his (the injury's) ass."
White isn't worried about when he'll play, how or much he'll play in the first game that he's cleared for, but rather focusing each day so that when the time comes, he's able to play with confidence knowing he put everything he could into his recovery.
"If I'm ready to go out full go, they (Bills medical staff) know when that is. So just like I said, going out and practicing and giving it all I got on each and every rep," White said. "Just trying to get my body back into football shape and getting back into the football mind, going into the meetings, hearing the terminology again and being on a practice field."
Roughly a year away from the game he loved forced White to take a step back and look at his life through a larger lens. He spent time alone reading books about overcoming adversity, he spent more time with his two sons, aged 5 and 3 years old, and searched for his purpose beyond the sidelines on Sundays.
"I got more to give to people than knocking a pass down and intercepting a ball," White said. "So it was the first time in my life I sat down and was like, 'Tre'Davious White, what else can I offer to people?' I know I'm bigger than just a football game or just knocking a pass down."
It wasn't all a seamless process, though. Early on in White's recovery, he shared there were more hard days than easy days. During those difficult moments, when he had no motivation to leave his basement, teammates had to force him out of the house.
"The first few months, it was a very hard, very depressing time. Locked up in my basement, they had to come drag — guys from the facility had to come drag me out of there," he said.
Through continuous support from his teammates and a diligent training staff White began to understand his road to recovery.
"The staff here and the people around here have been great. And so the process, I didn't have to go through it alone," he shared.
Two close friends that have helped White through the process are one of his current teammates in Micah Hyde and former college teammate in Odell Beckham Jr. Both players have been influential in guiding White.
"Micah is a guy that I look to for advice, just not on the football field, but just in life in general," White said.
White — along with Von Miller — have constantly been in Beckham's ear about potentially signing with the Bills when the WR recovers from an ACL tear of his own.
"If you go through my text thread, I think I sent him probably 2,700 Buffalo Bills emojis," White said of Beckham, noting the two overlapped for a year during college at LSU. "He's been a great resource for me."
Whenever White does make his highly anticipated return, it'll be payoff moment for White and everyone around him during the process.
"People that know me that I care about —and that care about me — just know the amount of work and effort and blood is literally blood, sweat and tears that I put into this rehab. They know," he said.
New running back Nyheim Hines along with Dean Marlowe hit the practice field for the first time as Bills in 2022. Check on the best practice photos from Wednesday. This gallery is sponsored by On Location.