Bills Suffer Major Loss as Standout Rookie CB Heads to Injured Reserve

Christian Benford

Getty Christian Benford #47 of the Buffalo Bills takes part in a drill on August 05, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York.

The Buffalo Bills are moving rookie cornerback Christian Benford to injured reserve, dealing a major blow to a defense that was finally taking steps toward getting healthier.

Benford suffered an oblique injury in the team’s 28-25 win over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving, and head coach Sean McDermott said this weekend that he was listed as week-to-week. On November 26, the team announced that Benford was being placed on IR while veteran Xavier Rhodes was being signed to the active roster from the practice squad.

Benford Having Surprise Rookie Season

Going into the 2022 season, the Bills expected first-round rookie cornerback Kaiir Elam to play a major role as All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White finished up his rehab for a torn ACL suffered last Thanksgiving.

While Elam has performed well in a significant role, Benford has been the bigger surprise. He joined the team as a sixth-round draft pick from Villanova, jumping into the starting lineup after a strong training camp and preseason. Benford has a total of 24 tackles and one interception this season.

He will now be replaced by a longtime veteran. The 32-year-old Rhodes is a three-time Pro Bowler with the Minnesota Vikings and was named to the All-Pro team in 2017.

The Bills signed Rhodes to the practice squad in September, but placed him on the injured list just days later after he suffered a hamstring injury. Rhodes later returned and was elevated to the active roster for the team’s November 20 win over the Cleveland Browns, making two tackles.

Bills Get All-Pro Cornerback Back

While Benford is on the way out for at least the next four weeks, the Bills were able to get White back in their Thanksgiving win over the Lions. The All-Pro cornerback had started the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list and was slowly working his way back, playing his first action this week.

While head coach Sean McDermott said White was on a “pitch count” and only played the first two series of the game, he is expected to gradually increase his workload over the coming weeks.

Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said the team wasn’t sure if White would be able to play on Thursday, especially after the short turnaround from last Sunday’s game, but he ultimately felt comfortable enough to suit up.

“Early in the week, we had an idea it was going to work out that way. Short week, but it was something that we talked about,” Frazier told the team’s official website. “That Wednesday before we left to go to Detroit, we had conversations and in every conversation, you can see the excitement within (Tre)… so there was a level of comfort there and we were all excited and then he goes out and he plays extremely well.”

The Bills are dealing with a number of other injuries on defense, with safety Micah Hyde already on IR with a neck injury. Pro Bowl linebacker Tremaine Edmunds has also been out for the last two games with groin and heel injuries.

Edmunds could be close to returning as well, returning to practice for the first time on November 27. The Bills face another short week, playing against the New England Patriots on Thursday night.

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