Buffalo Bills rookie cornerback Ron Brooks had an impressive offseason and preseason before suffering a broken foot in practice in late August. Now that he’s healthy, his return to Buffalo’s defense couldn’t come at a better time.
Brooks shined in preseason play by flashing his speed and physicality. He was routinely around the ball, wasn’t afraid to grapple with receivers, tackled well in space and also broke up a few passes. He even recorded an interception in his NFL debut by making a nice jumping catch off Washington’s Kirk Cousins.
The former LSU defensive back flew under the radar in college due to bigger personalities on a nationally renowned defense. In his time with the Tigers, Brooks played behind the likes of Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne and Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu.
Nevertheless, the Bills were privy to Brooks’ skill set, and they wasted no time in selecting him in the middle rounds.
After the rookie broke his foot in the preseason, the Bills placed him on injured reserve but designated him as the team’s candidate to return from IR, based on the NFL’s new rule change this year.
And it’s a good thing, because Buffalo needs Brooks more than ever right now.
Second-year corner Aaron Williams is expected to miss “a few weeks” with a knee injury he suffered in Week 9 against the Houston Texans, as stated by Chan Gailey (via the Bills' official Twitter account):
Chan Gailey: CB Aaron Williams will miss a few weeks, not season ending.— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) November 5, 2012
Williams’ absence will definitely be felt in the coming weeks, starting in Week 10 against the New England Patriots in Foxboro.
To make matters worse, veteran Terrence McGee has been hampered by a lingering knee injury after he underwent surgery in the preseason (per Gailey via the Bills’ Twitter account):
Gailey on CB McGee: struggling to come back. Some concern with his recovery time.— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) October 29, 2012
If all that weren’t reason enough for concern, fellow rookie Stephon Gilmore’s learning curve has been steeper than most expected. He’s shown great flashes at times in his first NFL campaign, but he’s also struggled at other times. Gilmore needs to play more physically and with more confidence in order to truly be a great corner in this league.
Needless to say, Brooks’ return will offer some immediate relief for Buffalo’s struggling secondary. According to Bills lead journalist Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com, the rookie will be active against the Pats in Week 10, though most of his time will likely come on special teams.
Brooks will look to pick up right where he left off in the preseason. Any contributions he makes will be embraced with open arms, as Buffalo ranks 31st in the league in total defense, allowing 418 yards per game.
Hopefully the speedy youngster can continue to shine now that he’s back to full health, because his bright future makes Buffalo’s future that much brighter, too.