By Jay Skurski
Marcus Easley breathed a sigh of relief more than two years in the making this week when learning he had been promoted to the Bills' 53-man roster.
"It’s been a long road for me and I’m just grateful for this opportunity," Easley said today at his locker. "It's definitely been a struggle, but on the practice squad I tried to carry the mentality of 'get better.' You're still being evaluated, so I tried to take advantage of that every day."
With receiver Stevie Johnson missing practice today because of a thigh bruise, promoting Easley is also a bit of an insurance policy for the Bills. But coach Chan Gailey made it clear it's more about the job Easley has done.
"He's played extremely well on the scout team. He deserves an opportunity to come up and see what he might be able to do. I don't know if he'll get active soon or not, but we'd like to give him a chance to have that opportunity at some point," the coach said. "We'll see how it goes and how he practices and we'll let him get some reps and go from there."
Easley's story is well known to Bills fans. The former fourth-round draft pick in 2010 out of Connecticut missed the past two seasons on injured reserve because of a knee injury and heart ailment, respectively. He was cut by the Bills at the end of the preseason this year, but signed to the practice squad a day later.
"It was huge," Easley said of his time on the development squad. "It was tremendous for me, because I really haven't played too much football in the last two years. Just being able to come out here and practice, kind of figure out what a season’s like in taking care of your body, definitely helps. It helped me get back into playing shape."
Gailey said it will be tough for Easley to be active this week, but the team is in a position to do so now if it chooses to.
"That's the next step," Easley said.
One thing working in his favor is his special teams acumen. Easley played on both the kick and punt coverage units in the preseason.
"Wherever I can fit in or wherever I can help this team out, I'm sure the coaches will put me in that position," he said.