ORCHARD PARK, NY (WKBW) — After suffering what he called a "minor setback" during the off-season, Bills DE Jerry Hughes is getting closer to feeling 100%.
"I know that we're not playing week one next week," Hughes said after Sunday's practice. "So I gotta monitor my body and make sure I can still put together successful days, that way I won't have any hiccups or setbacks during the season."
Hughes is entering his 12th season in the NFL and for the first time in his career, started Training Camp on the non-football injury list. He suffered a calf injury before the season started and has since been working with trainers.
He was activated from the NFI list last week and has been getting some much needed reps to test out his calf.
"Right now my mindset is on getting really good reps, mental reps, and staying in shape," he said. "Now that I'm actually practicing, it's about pushing myself to see if I have a limit on my calf, and if not, just try to still stack up good days right now. I think that's really been the key, doing a lot of rehab and taking care of my body."
Not being able to practice and take those first-team reps has allowed some of the other Bills defensive ends to get that valuable experience. The team brought in draft picks Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham, and added a few off-season additions to bolster the defensive line.
Watching from the sideline in the team's first preseason game against the Detroit Lions, Hughes was able to watch his teammates play for the first time since January and was pleased with what he saw.
"A lot of them, it was their first NFL game and for them to go out there and hit the field so fast and play violent, it was exciting to see," he said about some of the younger players. "Those young guys did a lot of great things. For them to display that confidence and go out and execute what we talk about throughout the week, it was exciting to watch them fly around."
As the veteran and leader in the locker room, Hughes takes it upon himself to help out the younger players whenever he can. He remembers being new to the league and modeling his game from others. He brings that same wisdom to Rousseau, the Bills first-round pick in this year's draft.
"There's a lot of things I'm telling him that I wouldn't use myself, because we pass rush completely different," Hughes said. "I've been pointing Greg to rush like Mario Williams because he's another pass-rushing great who's been in this business. I think those guys [Rousseau, Daryl Johnson] who have that size and stature, can learn a lot from him."