By Jay Skurski
Zebrie Sanders looked like a good value pick by the Buffalo Bills when he was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-6, 318-pound offensive tackle had started 50 of 53 career games at Florida State, second most in the rich football history of the Seminoles' program.
But Sanders' career was sidetracked by injury -- two of them, actually -- that caused him to miss his entire rookie season on injured reserve. Sometime during the second week of training camp last year -- Sanders isn't exactly sure when -- he tore the labrum in his right hip.
Determined to make the roster, he played through the injury. But on the day of the final cuts, the Bills placed Sanders on injured reserve. Just days later he was in surgery to have the injury repaired.
"It was definitely real stressful for me," Sanders said today.
It would get worse before it got better. While rehabbing from the first surgery, Sanders found out he also had torn the labrum in his left hip. That necessitated a second surgery, which was performed in November.
Each surgery involved shaving down the bone around his hip and repairing the torn labrum. Exactly as painful as it sounds. Sanders wasn't able to walk for a couple weeks after each operation, so it's not a cliche to say he needed to learn to walk before he could again run.
He credits the Bills' trainers with helping him do that.
"I think it's went real good. Just staying here the whole offseason, working with the trainers here, they did a great job, trying to take it step by step -- slowly," he said. "Right now, I'm feeling good man. I'm feeling the best I've felt in nine months. It's just a good situation that I'm here, and now actually out here doing individual and hopefully I'll be able to move on and go to full, strenuous practices."
While it hasn't been determined exactly when that will be, Sanders has set a goal for next month's mandatory team minicamp. Recovery from each surgery is estimated to take six months.
"I haven't been able to practice, so I feel like I am behind in that respect," he said. "Once I feel like I can get out and start going with the team, the whole thing, I think I'll be up to speed."