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Tre’Davious White injury: Bills to activate All-Pro cornerback

Moving the cornerback to the 53-man roster opens new possibilities

NFL: JUL 31 Bills Training Camp Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When cornerback Tre’Davious White returned to practice on October 12, it opened a three-week window in which the Buffalo Bills would have to determine what the next step would be for their All-Pro cornerback. That next step, McDermott revealed on Monday afternoon, is adding him to the active roster.

Head coach Sean McDermott has sounded like a broken record with his weekly updates on White’s status since then, mentioning that White is “progressing,” that he’ll play “when he’s ready,” and that they’re taking things “one day at a time.” It would seem like that’s the story the Bills are sticking to.

By rule, a decision has to be made by November 1 on activating White or sending him to Injured Reserve. It really was the only option, as the option of not activating White would mean he was lost for the rest of the season.

While White will be on the active roster, that doesn’t mean that he will be active on game day. Until he’s ready to suit up and take reps defensively, the Bills have the option of keeping him a game-day inactive—and it sounds like the Bills are ready to do so should they decide he’s not ready to play in Week 9 against the New York Jets.

White has been inactive since he tore his ACL during a Thanksgiving Day win over New Orleans last season. White had surgery to repair the ligament in his left knee. The standard time to return from an injury such as White’s is 8-9 months from the day of surgery. White had his surgery on December 14, 2021, but started the 2021 season on the Physically Unable to Perform list.

By rule, White wasn’t eligible to return to the team until the first day of Week 5, which for Buffalo would mean as they were preparing for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While the Bills have been struggling to keep a starting defensive secondary on the field—having lost safety Micah Hyde to a season-ending neck injury, along with a slew of other injuries that have kept Jordan Poyer, Dane Jackson, and Christian Benford from playing every game—the Buffalo coaching staff has not shown that they are in a hurry to put White back on the field.

“I think from a practice stand point it will make a diffference,” defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frasier said about activating White, saying that since the cornerback has been off of the PUP list, he has been working with the practice squad. “We can get him out and working with our defense.”

Still, there is no guarantee that White will be on the field Sunday when the Bills take on the Jets, who are currently tied for second place in the AFC East.

Of course, there is always the third option—the one behind the choice to activate or not activate. The Bills could activate White on November 1, and then on November 2 they could move him to the Injured Reserve list. Doing so would mean that White would have to miss the next four weeks before being eligible to play in Week 13, when the Bills would travel to Foxboro, MA to meet the New England Patriots for the first time this season.

All of this is to say: White is back, or maybe he’s not. We still don’t really know. And, as usual, McDermott isn’t going to show his hand.