Murphy eager for opportunity to restart career with Bills

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Trent Murphy feels particularly sympathetic toward the Buffalo Bills‘ training staff.

The defensive end can’t imagine how difficult it must have been on them to keep him from rushing onto the field the past six months while Murphy recuperated from a knee injury he sustained a year ago, and a strained groin he developed during training camp.

“We’ve had a lot of guys with reins on me,” Murphy said Thursday.

With a wink, he added: “I think if you ask them, they said they wanted a raise.”

The Bills will gladly pay up if it means the offseason free-agent addition who was signed to improve the team’s pass rush is finally in a position to play in Buffalo’s season opener at Baltimore on Sunday.

It’s not easy holding back Murphy. He is so dedicated to working out, he built a gym in his home, and spent three months last winter rehabbing at the invitation-only Westside Barbell gym in Columbus, Ohio, where Murphy pulled sleds and squatted 475 pounds.

The 27-year-old has been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to restart a career that was derailed abruptly some 13 months ago after he began showing signs of promise in Washington.

A year after posting a career-best nine sacks, Murphy’s future was sidetracked last summer when he tore two ligaments in Washington’s preseason opener.

The injury led to Murphy missing his entire fourth NFL season, and led to the uncertainty of what offers the former second-round draft pick out of Stanford might attract in free agency.

Once Buffalo showed immediate interest, Murphy braved driving through a snowstorm in the middle of the night from Columbus, to arrive at the Bills’ headquarters to sign a three-year, $21 million contract.

After sitting out most of Buffalo’s spring sessions, the 27-year-old developed a minor setback during training camp when a nagging groin injury forced Murphy to miss all four preseason games.

Murphy said he feels fine after completing his third straight practice, and he’s not listed on the Bills’ initial injury reports this week.

“Super excited to get back to football and help the team,” Murphy said.

“You never want to sit on the sideline, especially after waiting as long as I had to wait,” he added. “I always knew, you put in the hard work and you’ll be rewarded for it in the end. I just keep faith in that mantra.”

The Bills are counting on Murphy to improve a pass rush that finished tied for 29th last season with just 27 sacks, and six of them coming in a 9-3 loss at Carolina in Week 2.

Murphy entered training camp projected to fill the starting spot on the left side opposite Jerry Hughes. He’s now expected to play a backup role behind Shaq Lawson , Buffalo’s 2016 first-round draft pick.

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is encouraged by Murphy’s return to practice, but intends to take a cautious approach when it comes to playing time and not risk him aggravating the groin injury.

“I know he’s been champing at the bit,” Frazier said. “You can imagine how he feels signing a free-agent contract, looking forward to coming to training camp … and then all of a sudden having some nagging injuries that he’s had. There was disappointment, but he’s healthy and looking good in practice.”

Murphy has plenty to motivate him, including questions of whether he can match the production he enjoyed in 2016. He combined for just six sacks in 31 games during his first two seasons in Washington.

“I’m the type of player who always has a chip on my shoulder,” he said.

“After 2016, people were saying, ‘Oh, that could’ve been a fluke,'” Murphy added. “I couldn’t be more excited to prove to everyone here that I’m who they think I am.”