Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso isn't ready to call the 2014 season a complete loss despite suffering a serious ACL injury just two months ago.
John Wawrow of The Associated Press reports the standout rookie from last season didn't rule out making a return late in the year if his rehab goes well. He's more focused on the short term for the time being, however, as he fights through the disappointment: "It stinks. But you've just got to be optimistic about it and keep grinding. Because if you do everything you need to do in you rehab, it'll come back stronger."
Alonso suffered the injury while during offseason workouts in Oregon. The report notes he felt something in the knee after doing some agility drills and got checked out a few days later. Further evaluation showed a torn ACL.
Although he's holding out hope of a return before the season ends, it's hard to imagine the Bills taking any chances with a key piece of their defense moving forward. The only exception might be if he receives full medical clearance and Buffalo is still in the playoff hunt during the final weeks.
Chris Brown of the team's official site lays out the options the Bills have:
He's currently on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list. It leaves open the remote possibility of Alonso returning to the practice field for a three week stint to determine if he's fit to return to the roster or be put on the shelf for the rest of the season. That window opens at the conclusion of Week 6.
It seems highly unlikely, but at this point Alonso isn't closing the door on the 2014 season.
In the meantime, Preston Brown is slated to fill the outside linebacker role for one week until Nigel Bradham returns from a one-game suspension. Bradham will then take control of the starting spot until Alonso is ready to return.
Whether that's later this season or next year is yet to be determined, but the latter is a strong bet. The Bills don't have the look of a playoff team, and that would be the only reason to rush him back. A healthy return in 2015 is the likely outcome.