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Injury analysis: Buffalo Bills OT David Quessenberry

The veteran tackle battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma early in his career

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills continue to plug holes and add depth, having just signed OT David Quessenberry to a one-year contract Thursday just prior to the draft. The signing of Quessenberry only reinforces the front office’s strategy to build out at the line of scrimmage and add experienced players rather than rookies.

Quessenberry comes to the Bills after a long and arduous journey that began nearly a decade ago. He was drafted by the Houston Texans in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft out of San Jose State. As with every other notable Bills signing, below is David Quessenberry’s publicly known injury history.


Injury History

David Quessenberry did not appear to have any notable injuries coming out of college, appearing in 50 games over four seasons

2013 Houston Texans

Suffered a broken foot, side not specified, in practice. This occurred right after cut-down day and before Week 1, forcing him to injured reserve for the season. He later required surgery to address the fracture, but outside of this information, it’s not clear what bone in his foot he broke.

2014 Texans

Quessenberry developed a persistent cough and fatigue that led to an athletic trainer urging him to go see a team doctor. That doctor later sent him to the emergency room for what was initially thought to be pneumonia. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgin’s T-cell lymphoma, a type of cancer that appears in the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes are part of a network in the body that help fight off infection and disease as part of the immune system.

Alamy Stock Photo

He underwent chemotherapy immediately and went through treatments for ten months followed by 30 maintenance treatments. This occurred over the next several years with him spending his time on the Non-Football Injury list with the Texans while he battled the disease. During that time, he lost 70 lbs but was still around the team to watch film and attend practice. He was finally declared to be in remission on February 25, 2015, and finished treatments on April 13, 2017.

Over the next two years, Quessenberry continued treatment while in the meantime, the Texans waived him with a non-football injury designation in 2016. He then was placed on their non-football injury list as he continued to recover.

2017 Texans

Quessenberry was able to return for the 2017 season for OTAs and training camp, ultimately being waived during cut-down days. He spent the majority of the season on the practice squad until a late promotion to the active roster in December, appearing in two games. He did not suffer any publicly reported injuries.

2018 Texans/Tennessee Titans

Quessenberry made it through Texans training camp before getting released during final roster cut downs. He later signed with the Tennessee Titans and spent the season on the practice squad, appearing in zero games.

2019 Titans

He made the Titans’ roster out of training camp and appeared in the first four games of the season, catching a touchdown pass in Week 2. He was later released after Week 4 and spent the remainder of the season on the practice squad. He did not suffer any publicly reported injuries.

2020 Titans

Appearing in 12 games and one playoff game, he initially was signed to the practice squad following training camp. Due to the expanded practice squad rosters and call-ups due to COVID-19, Quessenberry was called up several times for games before staying on the roster in late October. He did not suffer any publicly reported injuries.

2021 Titans

Appearing in all 17 games and one playoff game, Quessenberry did not suffer any publicly reported injuries on the injury report.


Buffalo Bills Impact

The elephant in the room is clearly Quessenberry’s cancer diagnosis and his journey back to the NFL that culminated in meaningful contributions over the past two seasons. While there are a multitude of reasons that Quessenberry was not cleared to resume football until 2017, chemotherapy was the main one.

Some of the more notable side effects are fatigue, easy bruising/bleeding, infection, anemia (low red blood cells), weight changes, and peripheral neuropathy. There are many more, but those side effects alone wound make daily activities, much less playing football at the highest level incredibly difficult. Chemotherapy also can lead to bone loss, leading to a higher risk of fractures.

You don’t need to have a medical background to look at those side effects and see why he wasn’t cleared to play football. It was highly unfortunate that he dealt with cancer, but being a member of the Texans was highly beneficial. He was able to obtain the resources to treat his cancer at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, one of the top cancer centers in America.

Furthermore, Quessenberry is not the only current NFL player with a history of cancer. Former Pittsburgh Steelers and current Arizona Cardinals RB James Conner dealt with Hodgkin's Lymphoma during his collegiate career at Pitt, missing a majority of the 2015 undergoing treatment. He was also able to return and became drafted, producing at a high level with a pair of Pro Bowl nods.

As there is much more that can be said regarding Quessenberry’s cancer journey, there are countless resources and stories for further reading. Outside of cancer and the broken foot, he has been healthy, especially last season, appearing in every game. There are no concerns regarding his injury history as his cancer remains in remission while he continues to receive regular checkups and passes NFL physicals.

He has had quite the journey over the last decade but does not have the game mileage that a nearly ten-year NFL vet would have at this point. If he doesn’t make the team, it will be because of his talents and not his injuries. The fact that he beat cancer and returned to play football at the highest level is simply amazing.