Torell Troup’s legacy with the Buffalo Bills so far is this: He’s the guy drafted one pick ahead of local product – and New England Patriots star tight end – Rob Gronkowski.
The Bills don’t have much to show for their big investment in Troup, the 41st overall pick of the 2010 draft. The hulking defensive tackle has played in just 21 games over three seasons, and made just two starts. His career stat line reads like this: 31 tackles, two passes defensed.
You could play the “what if” game for days when it comes to draft picks, but there’s no question Troup’s production looks even worse when Gronkowski is brought up. The Amherst native looks like a future Hall of Famer, with 187 catches, 2,663 yards and 38 touchdowns in his first three seasons.
What’s even harder to swallow is Gronkowski was said to have back problems in college, part of the reason he lasted until the 42nd pick. That injury is exactly what has hampered Troup as a professional.
“I had a couple bad-luck years here. I know what the expectations are,” Troup said matter-of-factly last week, as the players cleaned out their lockers. “I just had to get healthy. I’m there now. I’m ready to prove myself.”
Troup missed all of 2012 after being placed on injured reserve during training camp because of those lingering back problems. That came after playing just six largely ineffective games in the 2011 season.
Those problems are now a thing of the past, though, according to Troup, who met with team doctors around Christmas and got a clean bill of health.
“The doctors told me everything is all pretty much healed up, so I’m going to keep pushing forward and keep working out,” he said. “Hopefully this offseason goes by fast.”
Asked how much of a relief that news was, Troup said he expected it.
“I kind of already knew that just from the way I’m feeling when I’m working out and able to push sleds and do field work -- able to move around -- I can just totally feel a difference from camp,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a good thing once I got the MRI back and everything. They all looked significantly better than they did at the start of camp.
“I feel like I’m done with rehab. I’ve been working out for the last month. I haven’t been seeing much of the trainers, because there’s been no need, other than icing and things like that.”
Troup, who makes his offseason home in Atlanta, chose to stay in Buffalo to do his rehab while on IR.
“I spent the whole season here, going to meetings and working out when they’re at practice. I really think that helped just to stay focused,” he said. “When you go away, you kind of lose focus a little bit for the simple fact you’re not around the team. I got to be around the team the whole year.”
Troup, who will be 25 at the start of next season, was originally drafted to play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. At 6-foot-3 and 327 pounds, he’s got the ideal size for the role, provided his back is healthy.
He might once again get that chance under new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who has plenty of experience with the scheme from his time with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets.
“We’ll be a multiple front, multiple coverage defense. The trademark of our defense is we’re going to be smart, tough and relentless. How we configure it is more player-driven,” said Pettine.
Troup just wants to be a part of that, whatever his role may be.
“That’s all I’ve been thinking about. I’m so hungry and so ready to get out on the field, just to have any kind of contact and be a normal player again,” he said. “It’s hard coming to camp knowing I wasn’t ready to go and still trying to go. Now that I know I’m good and I get these couple months to train and be with my teammates, I really can’t wait to get out there.”