Following the Buffalo Bills‘ grueling 21-19 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 25, the team received unfortunate news regarding their breakout rookie cornerback, Chrisitan Benford, who suffered a hand injury late in the second quarter.
Benford was able to return to play during the second half of the game with a heavily wrapped hand, playing on special teams, which led many to believe the 22-year-old’s injury was not serious. However, on Monday, September 26, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted, “Benford suffered a fractured hand on Sunday, source said. Rough reality for the impressive rookie.”
When Benford was asked about his injury after the game, “They clubbed it up, but with all due respect, I’m gonna let the head coach and all the coaches give the injury report,” he said, per ESPN‘s Alaina Getzenberg. Bills head coach Sean McDermott revealed on Monday, “Benford has a broken hand and will undergo surgery. Looking at missing a couple of weeks,” per One Bills Live host Chris Brown.
It’s a devasting blow for Benford, the team’s sixth-round pick from the 2022 NFL Draft who beat out Kaiir Elam, the team’s first-round pick, to become a starter this season, and for Leslie Frazier’s defense, which is now nearly decimated at cornerback.
Pro Bowler Tre’Davious White is continuing to rehab from ACL surgery last season and does not yet have a return date. He was placed on the PUP list prior to the start of the season, which means he could start practicing this week if the Bills deem the veteran ready. Cornerback Dane Jackson took a horrifying hit to the head during the Bills’ Monday Night Football game against the Tennesee Titans and while he avoided any major injury, his timetable to return is also unknown.
When Benford exited the game, Ja’Marcus Ingram, who was elevated from the practice squad prior to the Bills’ Week 3 matchup, took over his spot. Marcus is an undrafted rookie out of the University of Buffalo.
The Bills’ Defense Is Heavily Depleted
Benford joins a laundry list of injured defensive players. The Bills played Week 3 with five starters out, Jackson, Micah Hyde, who will be on IR for the rest of the season, Jordan Poyer, Ed Oliver, and Jordan Phillips.
However, Leslie Frazier’s squad still played one impressive game against the Dolphins in the sweltering 110-degree heat. The Bills’ heavily depleted defense kept six-time Pro Bowler Tyreek Hill to just two receptions for 33 yards, allowing Miami’s entire offense to complete only 15 first downs and 212 total yards. In comparison, the Bills complete 31 first downs with 497 total yards.
With so many backups playing against the Dolphins, Spotrac.com reported that the Bills “started a secondary against the Dolphins that combined for just $5.97M in average salary this season, lowest in the NFL.” If a similar group starts against the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo’s Week 4 opponent, their combined salary will be $46 million less.
Diggs Said Benford Was His Favorite Rookie
Heavy Sports recently spoke with the Bills’ No. 1 wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, and the team captain said that he holds a high standard for the team’s rookies. While Diggs got into a few fights with new young guns throughout training camp, it’s tough love — an attempt to get them NFL-ready, he said.
“I have confidence in them. I tell ’em all the time… You’re getting a good look at some okay talent in practice that you might not see in the game, you might see in the game. And if it does, it’s preparing you the best way you can be. So, win, lose, or draw, you’re sharpening your blade.”
One particular rookie that has stood out from the pack was Benford. “I don’t even call him by his name when you’re a rookie, you don’t get a name, but 47 (Benford), He’s a dog out there. I like 47. Kaiir has been stepping up too. But I like 47, he’s my guy.”