Eric Wood, the Buffalo Bills’ starting center has yet to participate in the team’s training camp due to rehabilitation from a season-ending knee injury suffered last year. With Wood out of the fold, guard Kraig Urbik is taking the first team reps at center, with Chad Rinehart holding down the right guard position.
The Bills used their 28th overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft to select Wood, a solid guard/center prospect out of Louisville. However, in Week 10 of his rookie campaign, he suffered one of the most devastating leg injuries I’ve ever personally seen. The following season, Wood appeared in 14 games, but he missed two due to ankle injuries. Last year, Wood moved to the pivot, or center, position, where the franchise had hoped for him to eventually slide to, and performed at a Pro Bowl level. That is, until a torn ACL, causing him to miss seven games last year.
Wood has stated that he is both anxious to get on the field, and that he feels back to normal, telling BuffaloBills.com’s Chris Brown:
“My knee is feeling pretty good and we’re just trying to take it slow and be patient. Shoot it’s not even August yet. So there’s a lot of time until September 9th when it counts, and that’s kind of the approach that we’re taking. But hopefully this week I’ll be back out on the field and doing all the team reps and everything.
“I’m excited. It’s not a good feeling watching all your teammates practice and just going through individual and not do the fun part of practice, which is team drills. I’m absolutely excited to get back, but in the same sense I’m trying to be cautious and trying to be patient, but definitely getting a little anxious about it.”
While he seems to be on a path to recovery, it would be wise of head coach Chan Gailey to ease Wood back into normal first team reps, considering the damage already done to the ripe, 26-year old’s legs. We all know what we have in Wood: a high-caliber, nasty, mean center that has had a history of having a hard time staying healthy. While both knee injuries could be written off as freak accidents, Wood’s legs still are rehabilitating.
Coach Gailey had this to say about Wood’s upcoming workload:
“I think he’ll come back to practice on a more… he’ll get more practice in, keep doing a little bit more as time goes on.”
Wood and guard Andy Levitre, both of whom were from the same 2009 draft class, are expected to be the cornerstones of the Bills’ offensive line for years to come, so if the coaching staff would be wise to ease Wood back into his role, rather than throwing him into the fire.