In the days leading up to the start of this year's Buffalo Bills training camp, both GM Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey expressed optimism about third-year defensive tackle Torell Troup and his recovery from off-season back surgery in which two vertebrae were fused together. Yet on the first day of practice, Troup was a non-participant, and Gailey's tone had changed some.
"(Troup) struggled through today," said Gailey, per BuffaloBills.com. "He looked good (Wednesday) in the conditioning part of it. He struggled today. He’s probably going to be one of those that we watch as time goes on."
With Troup not participating in team drills, the team's defensive tackle pairings were fairly straightforward. Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus were on the first team; Spencer Johnson and Dwan Edwards were on the second team; and Alex Carrington and Kellen Heard were on the third team, according to The Buffalo News.
The day one pairings are not surprising. Williams and Dareus are the starters. Johnson and Edwards are the veteran wave players. Carrington and Heard are the younger projects. If Troup can quickly overcome his back issues, he'll likely take reps from and alongside Carrington and Heard to start with - but right now, that seems like a pretty big "if."
Also of interest will be to chart how the team rotates players in the lineup as the backup defensive tackle competition plays itself out. Johnson is expected to get some work at end in camp, as well, and it seems likely that at some point, the team will get its younger prospects (Troup included, when healthy) a good dose of second-team work, as well.
For now, however, Troup's health is the big story at defensive tackle. Mark Ludwiczak of Bills Digest and CBS Sports talked to Troup after practice on Thursday, and provided this harrowing set of tweets to sum up his feelings after the fact:
Torell Troup was really laboring today. Hope for his sake his back gets better, that's a brutal surgery to come back from.
Talked to Troup after practice and it was difficult to hear his account about exactly how painful the recovery is from fusion surgery.
Whether he makes the team or not, hopefully his quality of life moving forward is much better.