Rookie RG O’Cyrus Torrence was also named a starter; S Micah Hyde (rear) misses practice
ORCHARD PARK, NY (WIVB) — Terrel Bernard has won the contest to be the Bills’ starting middle linebacker despite missing the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, coach Sean McDermott announced Wednesday.
Another sophomore, cornerback Christian Benford, will also start Buffalo’s opening game against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football, and rookie O’Cyrus Torrence will start at right, McDermott said.
“These are all young players who are a bit inexperienced at this point,” McDermott said ahead of the Bills’ first practice session of the regular season. “We have faith in them and they will make it from game to game. It’s not an individual game, it’s a team game.”
Benford, who started five games as a rookie after being drafted in the sixth round by Villanova, beat Kaiir Elam, the Bills’ first-round pick in 2022, and fourth-year veteran Dane Jackson, who was 14th last season games started. opposite the top corner of Tre’Davious White.
“Throughout the spring and training camp, he was true to his duties,” said McDermott. “I think he denied balls, made some interceptions and also played some balls.”
Bernard, the Bills’ third-round pick last year, made rotations at center defense with Tyrel Dodson, Baylon Specter and AJ Klein before suffering a hamstring injury during training camp. Dodson has not been convincing in the pre-season, Specter is now on injury reserve with a hamstring injury and Klein has been fired.
“We thought he did some good things when he was healthy and available,” McDermott said. “And unfortunately this competition was somewhat interrupted due to an injury. We’re confident in TB and I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”
Buffalo has a vacancy in the linebacker corps after 2018 first-round pick Tremaine Edmunds, a five-year starter, signed with the Bears as free agency. Veteran linebacker Christian Kirksey was added to the practice squad last week. Kirksey, 31, started all 17 of the Texans’ games last season.
Torrence, a second-round pick from Florida, started each of the three preseason games ahead of Bates, an incumbent at that position whom the Bills appreciate for his ability to fill multiple positions on the line, including backup center.
“There wasn’t anything Ryan didn’t do, it was more like Cy-Bo came in as a young player and kept making one play after another and I think he crafted one at the beginning of spring and then one in spring oriented approach to his game.” “Back in training camp I thought he did well,” said McDermott.
Micah Hyde has a back injury
While the Bills have a short injury list ahead of the opening game, safety Micah Hyde had to pull out of practice Wednesday with a back injury, McDermott said. At the start of the workout, Hyde took part in stretching and individual exercises with his helmet on. McDermott did not say whether the injury will prevent Hyde from playing against the Jets. “We take it every day,” he said.
Hyde, one of Buffalo’s defensive captains, sustained a season-ending neck injury in the second game of the 2022 season. Damar Hamlin started in Hyde’s place for the remainder of the season. The Bills also brought on veteran Taylor Rapp to add depth to the safety position. Rapp could also play linebacker in some defensive lineups.
Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Born in western New York, he has covered the Bills, Sabers, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in the area for publications such as The Associated Press, The Buffalo News and Niagara Gazette since 2005. Read more about his work here.