OL Sanders close to seizing second chance


Some players will tell you when you're rehabbing from a major injury or surgery there are some mornings where you don't even want to get out of bed. The daily work involved can be exhausting. A little over a month removed from hip surgery to repair a torn labrum last September, Bills 2012 fifth-round pick Zebrie Sanders couldn't get out of bed, but it wasn't for lack of motivation.

Sanders, who painfully plowed his way through training camp in an effort to make the roster, was also grinding a calcium growth on his hip right through his labrum until it final tore necessitating surgery. Come mid-October two months into his post-surgery rehabilitation the unthinkable happened.

"I was in the middle of my rehab for the right side," Sanders told Buffalobills.com. "I woke up in the morning and literally I couldn't get out of bed. I had just started walking again slowly. I still had a little pain in my right side, but I could walk. I remember getting up and I just had a real sharp pain on my left side. It felt like the same pain I had on the right side. So I freaked out and called our trainers and they talked to the surgeon who had done my hip surgery on the right side in August."

A subsequent MRI revealed a torn labrum in his left hip, the result of overcompensating for the injured one on the right all through training camp. It also finally tore. Sanders, who was already on injured reserve, was in line for a second surgery in two months. His left hip was repaired the day before Thanksgiving.

Sanders, who was considered a great value for Buffalo in round five of the draft, not only saw his rookie season go up in smoke. He had a long offseason ahead of him.

"It was definitely hard, but I think this year wasn't more of a mental issue for me because I had my family to depend on," he said. "My first surgery my mom came down to stay with me the first two weeks and she helped me through it.

"My dad stayed with me for the second surgery, but he couldn't stay long so my uncles came in. I saw a lot of family that I wouldn't be able to see at that time if I was playing. In a rough time like that I really leaned on my parents and my family and they helped me through it. It definitely was a hard time for me this past year."

The rehab timetable for each hip is six months. His right hip is just about 100 percent aside from some strength work that must be completed. His left hip is not far behind as he began to do some on field work Thursday with some pass sets.

"I'm feeling great right now," said Sanders. "I've already started doing some conditioning on the bikes, stairmaster, jump rope, in the pool at the deep end jogging. I'm finally lifting again, squatting, going underneath hurdles. I don't have any more pain anymore when I walk. Since last August to about late February I had pain. So I'm only now experiencing walking pain free for about three weeks."

Sanders expects to participate in the team's offseason conditioning program, which begins April 2nd, though it will be limited to the weight room.

"Certain things like running, I'll be with the trainers," he said. "Lifting I'll do, but the trainers have said May is my target month to see if I'll be full go and be cleared. So that's a good sign."

His rookie year lost, Sanders has redemption on his mind. He also sees a true fresh start with a new coaching staff.

"I'm taking everything as a clean slate," said Sanders. "I'll get a chance to get out there and prove myself. I'll make a point to myself, the coaches and my teammates that I'm good enough to play at this level. I'm excited about it."

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