Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso said Tuesday he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee from a simple change-of-direction move during a routine offseason workout in Oregon.
“I was just working out and changed direction,” Alonso said. “I didn’t know. I felt something goofy. Got it checked out, sat on it a couple days, finally got it looked at again and they told me it was torn. That’s football. Stuff like that happens.”
The Bills announced that Alonso had suffered a potentially “significant” knee injury July 1, then confirmed the torn ACL the following day.
Alonso, who spoke with reporters after an appearance in the team’s ADPRO Sports Training Center, had surgery July 17 performed by Dr. James Andrews.
“It’s definitely a huge disappointment because obviously I want to be out there with the guys,” Alonso said, “but, you know, that’s just how football is. You’ve got to deal with it and come back stronger from it. You’ve just got to keep grinding and doing everything to get back on the field 100 percent.”
Alonso rejoined the team after it broke training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford and returned to its Orchard Park headquarters. He plans to rehab here.
“It’s great to have him around. I think it’s very tough on him. I’m happy that he’s around, but I think it’s very tough on him,” Bills coach Doug Marrone said earlier this preseason about Alonso. “He’s working just as hard as he normally works. He’s in here early, in here all the time. He’s a benefit for our football team.”
“I want to be around the team,” Alonso said Tuesday. “It wouldn’t feel right not to be here.”
Alonso has experience going through rehab for a torn ACL. He suffered the same injury in his right knee in the spring of 2010, missing his redshirt sophomore season for Oregon (he was concurrently serving a year-long suspension for a DUI arrest).
“You’ve just got to rehab well. Usually it comes back stronger if you rehab it well, so that’s the plan, the goal,” he said. It stinks, he said, “but you know, you’ve just got to be optimistic about it and keep grinding, really work hard on your rehab.”
Alonso walked without a noticeable limp on Tuesday. He said his knee “feels great.”
“It’s coming along,” he said. “Obviously it’s going to take some time, but for now I feel really good.”
The Bills placed Alonso on the reserve/non-football injury list last week. The designation means he doesn’t count against the team’s 53-man roster limit. If he were cleared, he could begin practicing with the team any time between the end of Week Six and end of Week 11 (Oct. 13-Nov. 18). If he were to practice, the Bills would have three weeks to decide to activate him to the 53-man roster or place him on the season-ending reserve/NFL list.
“I don’t think I’ve ruled it out,” Alonso said of a potential return this season. “But I’m just focused on getting back to 100 percent.”
A return to the field this season is highly unlikely. If Alonso were to return to practice on Nov. 12, for example, and the Bills used all three weeks to make their decision, it would come Dec. 3. At that point, there would be four games remaining. Alonso, though, would be less than five months removed from surgery – an unheard of time frame for recovery from an ACL tear.
In Alonso’s place, the Bills plan to start third-year veteran Nigel Bradham. He is suspended for the season opener Sunday in Chicago, however, which means rookie Preston Brown will likely get the start.
Alonso spoke after announcing his partnership with Campbell’s Soup for the upcoming season. For every tackle the Bills make, Campbell’s will donate 20 cans of soup (up to 17,000 for the season) to four different food banks in Western New York as part of the “Tackling Hunger with the Buffalo Bills” program.
The Bills filled out their 10-player practice squad Tuesday with the signing of tight end D.J. Tialavea.
Tialavea, 23, entered the NFL earlier this year as an undrafted free agent. The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder played at Utah State, making 30 catches for 198 yards and five touchdowns in 40 career games.
The Bills also reached an injury settlement with cornerback Bobby Felder and released him from injured reserve.
The team was off Tuesday. It returns to practice at noon today.