The Buffalo Bills weren’t hesitant to bring in defensive end Trent Murphy this offseason, signing the 27-year-old pass rusher on the first day of the NFL’s free agency period. The three-year deal worth $22.5 million posed some risk, as Murphy missed the entire 2017 season with a torn ACL.
It has been just over a year since his season-ending injury, but Murphy’s still sidelined with health issues, albeit unrelated to the torn ACL he suffered with the Washington Redskins. Instead, he’s out of commission due to a groin injury that recently resurfaced during training camp.
Buffalo’s head coach, Sean McDermott, addressed the situation prior to the team’s final practice of camp at St. John Fisher College.
“We’re just going to take it one day at a time,” said McDermott. “It’s just something that’s a little nagging right now.”
Nagging seems like an appropriate word to use here. Murphy first missed time early in Bills camp and ultimately didn’t suit up in the team’s preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers last Thursday.
However, he returned to the practice field a day after the Bills’ 28-23 loss.
Video: A little Trent Murphy for you his first day back after dealing with a groin injury. pic.twitter.com/C5vXEM4MMI
— Sal Capaccio 🏈 (@SalSports) August 10, 2018
Murphy’s reappearance was short-lived, as he pulled himself from practice the following Monday, just four days after finding the field again.
After pulling out of practice early yesterday it looks like Trent Murphy will be a non-participant this afternoon. #Bills
— Chris Brown (@ChrisBrownBills) August 14, 2018
Murphy ended up missing practice this past Tuesday and Wednesday after reaggravating his groin. Due to the lingering nature of these injuries, McDermott was asked if there’s any thought of shutting him down until the start of the regular season.
“Yeah, you know we’re trying to figure it out, honestly, and that’s really all I know right now,” he said. “I think it’s not a ‘want to’ [issue] at all with Trent as you guys have gotten to know him as we have.”
“We’ve had a couple groins this camp; [they have been] all a little bit different, which is to be expected. We’ve just got to find the right formula right now, and we’re working hard at it.”
As Buffalo searches for that formula, there’s reason to be concerned. Murphy’s currently slated as the starting left defensive end on the Bills’ depth chart. The defensive front is desperate for Murphy’s presence, as that unit ranked 29th in sacks last season, only registering 27.
In 47 career games (23 starts), the 6-6, 260-pound DE has tallied 110 total tackles, 15 sacks, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and two passes defended. In 2016, Murphy’s last full season, he posted career highs in sacks (9) and forced fumbles (3).
Murphy nearly reached double-digit sack numbers when healthy, which is no easy task. That’s why Bills fans are so eager to see this guy get after opposing quarterbacks.
The concerns surrounding his injuries are understandable but, on the other hand, there are some reasons to be optimistic.
Murphy, a former second-round selection (47th overall), only missed one game in his first three seasons in the league. In his rookie season (2014), he played in 15 games for the Redskins. He then upped his availability in 2015 and 2016, posting back-to-back 16-game seasons.
Buffalo will anxiously await Murphy’s return to that availability. Until then, all eyes are on Bills former first-round pick Shaq Lawson as he takes over the first-team reps at LE.