The Buffalo Bills are coming to grips with the news Kiko Alonso’s season is over before it began.
Bills General Manager Doug Whaley released a statement Wednesday that confirms Alonso’s knee injury likely will sideline him all year.
“Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and will most likely miss the 2014 season,” Whaley said. “He will be scheduled for surgery in the near future and begin a rehabilitation program at the appropriate time.
“We feel badly for Kiko because he has worked very hard this offseason in preparation for the upcoming season, but we look forward to his return with his style of play that made him one of the league’s outstanding rookies in 2013.”
So who is the next man up at weak-side linebacker?
The obvious candidates for fans to consider are newcomer Keith Rivers and Nigel Bradham, the third-year pro who started two of the last four games at that spot.
Rivers and Bradham, though, are not who the Bills think can help the most. Sources say they are looking at rookie Preston Brown.
The third-round draft pick from Louisville was outstanding at the team’s voluntary workouts and minicamp. Coaches raved behind the scenes about how well Brown practiced. The front office was thrilled with how he looked and Tuesday night became even more relieved they drafted him after word came about Alonso’s injury.
Brown is versatile. He was a tackling machine at Louisville and is a hefty 260 pounds. But he’s slick enough that the Bills used him as a first-unit nickel linebacker in spring practices.
Rivers is a veteran option. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2008 draft, but injuries have limited his career. In two seasons with the New York Giants, he started 15 games and recorded one sack with no interceptions, no forced fumbles and two recoveries.
Bradham’s importance increases, too. But he couldn’t unseat Arthur Moats from the starting lineup until Week 14.
Moats, a fan favorite for his personality and charitable works, was pedestrian on the field last season. The Bills let Moats leave in free agency.
Bradham made 38 tackles on defense with no sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles or recoveries. He finished second with 13 special-teams tackles.