He's a player that rarely shows any outward emotion. Getting a read on Terrence McGee just looking at him often proves difficult, that is until he's lined up at cornerback on a Sunday. Hence his nickname 'Game Day.' For the majority of the 2010 season however, McGee has been relegated to game day spectator thanks to a nerve problem that has proven troublesome since it first surfaced nine weeks ago.
During Buffalo's Week 3 game against New England, McGee was experiencing periodic numbness in his left calf. After further examination it was determined that the veteran cornerback had a nerve problem similar to sciatica, which could be corrected with a procedure performed at the base of his spine.
Anytime a procedure is done on one's nervous system the timetable for recovery is different in every case. As a result McGee could not be given a definitive prognosis. It could be five weeks, it could be three months.
McGee would miss five straight games as his nervous system recovered and calmed down.
Head coach Chan Gailey and his defensive staff eased McGee back into the practice setting following the five-week layoff and gave him reps in Buffalo's dime defense against Detroit in Week 10 and considerably more at Cincinnati in Week 11.
At the tail end of the Cincinnati game however, the nerve problem resurfaced. It would happen again in practice the following week forcing McGee to undergo a battery of tests and miss each of the last two games.
The best answer at this point is that the nerve that runs to the back of his knee just needed more time to recuperate and begin to fire again as it normally does.
"They explained it to me," said Gailey. "They just tell me it needs time to heal. There's something about nerve connection and all that stuff that's re-healing or re-attaching and I don't understand all that. But I think it's a time thing more than it is a real problem. It just takes time to re-fire."
A fierce competitor, McGee is tired of spending more time in doctor's offices than on the field.
"I've done all kinds of tests," he said. "I've had so many needles stuck in me that I'm tired of needles. We're just really trying to pinpoint it all."
Not having a specific timetable as to when his leg is going to feel right again has made this McGee's most exasperating season as a professional. His seven games missed this season match the number of games he's missed in the past two seasons combined.
"It's definitely the most frustrating (season)," said McGee. "Just missing so many games or being at games that I'm not able to play in. When I first came back I got 'x' number of plays and the coaches did a good job of slowly getting me back in there and back in the groove of things. Where I'm at now is definitely frustrating though."
"I talked to him last week a couple of times and he is very frustrated and we all are," said Gailey. "When you can't pinpoint something it gets you frustrated so it's something that you're just dealing with right now and time will heal it, but we don't know how much time it's going to take."
McGee had some promising workouts over the weekend and said on Monday that he will be on the practice field Wednesday to see how well his nervous system handles the high-impact nature of his position.
"With cornerback we do a lot of twisting and turning and you've got to bend down when you're backpedaling," he said. "It's difficult to push a lot of that out of your mindset, but you've got to just go full speed and do what you can do."
Knowing his last attempt to return from the nerve problem had only limited success before experiencing a relapse, McGee isn't making any promises. Without a road map as to how the nerve is going to respond has left it largely a trial by fire situation.
"I'll be back out there practicing on Wednesday. I can't say if that's good or bad. I'll be back out there practicing," he said. "That's all I can say."
"We don't know if it's pretty close or if it's not that close," said Gailey. "We'll find out on the practice field this week."
What is clear is that despite all the discomfort he's had to endure the past two months with his nerve problem, it pains him even more to be a teammate that can't help on Sundays. "I just miss being out there and making plays," he said. "It's frustrating, but there's not much I can do about it. I just have to stay patient."