It was a path he was hoping to avoid heading into the 2012 regular season. Torell Troup worked extraordinarily hard to be fully recovered from back surgery in six months. He was determined to participate in training camp with his teammates and resume a career that had been derailed by injury. Unfortunately Troup's back wasn't ready to cooperate.
"My back would not allow me to be ready," Troup told Buffalobills.com.
Troup's troublesome back, which made getting down in a three-point stance a trial in and of itself, was not ready to accept that his physical condition was not going to make playing football possible. He suited up for practice almost every day last summer at St. John Fisher and participated in practice on a limited basis.
His movement was labored and stiff. He could only go half speed. Anyone watching Troup trudge through practice in his condition knew playing in September was very unlikely.
"I think people felt more sorry for me than I actually felt for myself," Troup said. "They expected me to go out and give a great effort so that's what I did every day. I didn't think about the pain. When I got out there my body limited me on doing certain things, but when I was out there I was trying to give 100 percent as much as I could. I just took it one day at a time and decided I would give my best effort whatever that was."
But it was clear that Troup's 2012 season was in jeopardy. Come the end of camp the team decided it was best to shut Troup down and place the defensive tackle on injured reserve.
Troup was mad. He gutted it out all through camp to prove he was willing to put in the work until his physical condition improved. It took him two or three days to come to grips with the fact that getting his back right away from the field was the best course of action.
"Once I sat down with the strength coaches and the training staff and they were like, 'We really think this is the best thing for you,'" said Troup. "Talking to coach and talking to Buddy really kind of put me at ease and let me know I just need to work. So from that point on five days a week in the gym rehabbing, working out, getting stronger, getting my legs back to where they need to be."
The regular season last fall was very difficult for Troup to stomach. After missing most of the 2011 season after sustaining a fracture in the lower spine and a herniated disc in the preseason finale the previous summer, to again be sidelined made football hard to be around.
"I couldn't come to the stadium on Sundays," he said. "It's too hard to come to the stadium on Sundays and see the guys suiting up and getting ready to go out there and play. For the most part I stayed home and watched every game on TV and kind of just have been thinking and waiting."
Having to repeat a lot of the same rehab he went through just a year earlier challenged Troup's mental toughness and belief that the work would pay off in the end.
"That is definitely the hardest part," Troup said. "You work so hard in the gym and on the field and you get sidelined so fast. Now it's a year and my back is feeling good. Still, it's still hard to cope with it. Missing the whole season and I really wanted to be out there so bad."
Troup didn't feel like himself again until early December when he could begin working leg routines into his rehab workouts.
"Once I was able to squat that kind of got me over the hump," he said. "In camp I wasn't able to squat. My right leg was totally smaller than my left leg. The muscle loss in my leg was significant. Once I started to get that back I really started to feel like a football player again."
Now a fit and trim 312 pounds, Troup is able to do more football-related work, and looks forward to the first live hitting drills.
"Come camp time I'll be between 315, 320 that's where I feel my best weight is where I can move sideline to sideline and still be big and strong enough to take on a double team," Troup said. "I am so excited to be able to go through normal football drills and actually be able to hit someone, when I find someone to hit. I just can't wait to get back out there."
Most important for Troup will be the camaraderie he'll have once again with his teammates after being on the shelf for the better part of the last two years.
"I joke around with the guys that I'm really like a ghost around here," he said. "When you're hurt everybody is focused on the next week and the game so it's really like I'm not even here, so it's hard sometimes. Guys overlook me and I'm standing right in front of them. It's hard, so I can't wait to be around my teammates and do just about anything."