It's looking like the first major injury of the 2014 Buffalo Bills season happened three weeks before the start of training camp, and it's a doozy: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Kiko Alonso tore his ACL in a workout at Oregon, that his recovery prognosis is 7-9 months, and that he is therefore expected to miss the entirety of the 2014 season.
Bills LB Kiko Alonso tore his ACL and is expected to miss season, per source. It’s considered a seven- to nine-month recovery. Blow for BUF.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 2, 2014
Bills GM Doug Whaley released a statement on the injury about an hour before Schefter's report emerged, with far less conclusive language.
"We have learned tonight that Kiko Alonso injured his knee while working out in Oregon," Whaley said in a statement. "We do not have the details at this point, but early indications are that it may be significant."
Alonso, who played every defensive snap for the Bills in his rookie season, finished the 2013 season with 159 tackles, four interceptions, two sacks, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. His loss is a crippling blow for a Bills defense that now does not have a three-down linebacker on the roster.
Nigel Bradham might be the obvious choice to take Alonso's place on the weak side, though rookie third-round pick Preston Brown - who saw first-team work in spring practices, including in pass defense sub-packages - could make a serious run for a large role, as well. Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers are expected to hold down the middle and strong-side jobs, respectively. None of these players are Alonso, however; as Alonso played 1,145 snaps last season, Spikes, Rivers, and Bradham combined to play 1,389 with their respective teams.
Alonso's absence could easily have an effect on the team's starting safety competition, as well. Da'Norris Searcy may very well end up winning that job, but his presence as a nickel and dime linebacker may now be essential, which at minimum creates a sub-package opening at the back end of the defense for players like Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks, among other candidates.
As for Alonso: man, this sucks. It's looking like his legend won't continue until 2015.