Bills Give Tryout to Ex-Steelers CB After Breakout Season in XFL

Antoine Brooks

Getty Antoine Brooks warms up before a Pittsburgh Steelers game.

The Buffalo Bills turned to free agency, the NFL Draft, and undrafted free agency to add talent this offseason. Now they’re looking to the XFL.

The Bills are giving a camp tryout to cornerback Antoine Brooks following a breakout season with the Seattle Sea Dragons, Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams reported. The former Pittsburgh Steelers draft pick was one of the league’s top defenders, making 44 tackles with 1.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss.

Brooks will now get the chance to compete for a spot on Buffalo’s roster, but could face an uphill battle at one of the team’s deepest positions on defense.

Antoine Brooks Trying to Make NFL Return

Brooks was drafted by the Steelers in 2020 and appeared in four games that season, making two total tackles. He joined the Los Angeles Rams the next season and split time between the practice squad and active roster, appearing in eight total games and making three tackles. Brook was a regular on special teams for the Rams that season, playing in 62% of the team’s special teams snaps during his eight games.

Brooks was on the active roster for two playoff games for the Rams that season, but did not appear in their Super Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The former Maryland star had a winding journey in his football career, nearly quitting in his senior year of high school after suffering a devastating injury. As NBC Sports Washington noted in 2020, Brooks had compound fractures in both his wrist and leg and was down on the field for an hour before an ambulance arrived to take him to a nearby hospital.

“When I was hurt, I was laying on the ground, I told my mom I won’t play anymore,” Brooks told NBC Sports Washington. “I kind of asked her, ‘Mom, do I have to play football again?’ She said, ‘No, you don’t have to.’ I’m sitting there, leg broken, wrist broken. My heart dropped.”

Brooks ultimately decided to stick with it, and earned a scholarship to Maryland where he said he grew to love the game again.

“Honestly, I care about having fun in football,” Brooks said. “In the meeting room, that’s the time I get serious. That’s what you’ll get out of me: serious in class and joking on the field. I’m going to be locked down [on the field], but I’m playing for fun.”

Battle at Cornerback for Bills

Brooks will likely be competing for a spot as a reserve or member of the practice squad at cornerback, a deep position for the Bills. The team found two starting-caliber corners in the 2022 NFL Draft — Kaiir Elam in the first round and Christian Benford in the sixth — and All-Pro Tre’Davious White is expected to be back to full strength after missing the first half of last season with a torn ACL.

The Bills added more depth in the recently concluded NFL Draft, taking Oregon State’s Alex Austin in the seventh round. As The Buffalo News noted, Austin is coming off a strong season where he made 57 tackles, 10 passes defended, two interceptions, a sack and a fumble recovery while starting 12 games. Austin earned All-Pac-12 honorable mention for his efforts.

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