Back still a bother for Bills DT Torell Troup
The tears won't come until later, because Torell Troup initially does his best to keep his emotions in check, discussing how far he's come after having season-ending back surgery.
''I feel it's progressed pretty well,'' the Buffalo Bills defensive tackle said.
What Troup says in his next breath is more revealing, by sharing how much pain he's been in since December, when doctors fused two discs to repair a spinal fracture.
''I've been in constant pain for eight months,'' Troup said. ''I didn't think it was going to be so hard, but it is. So I've got to deal with it.''
The pain has become so constant and his rehabilitation going so slowly that Troup is now second-guessing why he had the operation in the first place - even though his doctors recommended it was necessary.
''I honestly wish I could go back and I wouldn't have had surgery,'' Troup said. ''If I could go back, yeah, I probably wouldn't have wanted to deal with this. It's just a lot.''
Though Troup remains upbeat, the third-year player acknowledges having concerns about his immediate future in Buffalo.
''I'm just trying to put that out of my mind,'' he said, referring to the potential of being placed on injured reserve or being cut. ''I know it's a possibility.''
The clock is ticking on Troup, who has had extremely limited practice time three weeks into training camp. And it's uncertain whether he will be healthy to play in time for Buffalo's regular-season opener on Sept. 9.
After enjoying his best day of practice on Saturday, Troup's time decreased the following day. By Monday, he spent most of practice riding a stationary bike on the sideline.
Troup entered camp expected to compete with Alex Carrington and Kellen Heard for the fifth and final backup spot.
Now coach Chan Gailey isn't sure where Troup might fit.
''It's two steps forward and one step back on him, and that's frustrating for everybody,'' Gailey said. ''He's in a tough situation because he hasn't played enough to be an established player, so he's still trying to work his way into the depth chart.''
The Bills (No. 19 in the AP Pro32) were high on Troup upon selecting him 41st overall out of Central Florida in the 2010 draft.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 336 pounds, Troup was noted for his run-stuffing ability, strength and agility. He played a key role in a Golden Knights defense that finished first in Conference USA and fourth in the nation by allowing 82.7 yards rushing last season.
Troup showed flashes of his ability in his rookie season, when he had three starts in 15 games. His back problems, however, flared up late in training camp last year, and he was limited to playing just six games in a backup role.
Defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt described Troup's slow rehab as unfortunate. When Wannstedt first arrived in Buffalo last year, he recalled being impressed by what he saw of Troup after watching 2010 game film.
Now, Wannstedt's not sure what to make of him.
''It's tough,'' he said. ''We're going to be optimistic that things will turn. But the clock's running. And once we get through training camp and start playing games, it's very difficult for a lineman to get out there and gain confidence without actually doing it live.''
Troup isn't giving up. When he's not practicing, he's in the weight room or out on the practice field pulling sleds to maintain his strength and stamina.
''Every week, I feel like I'm making big strides,'' Troup said. ''I just try to stay positive and not jump too far ahead where I get setback too far.''
Ideally, Troup would prefer to have a chance to play in a preseason game. The one he's targeting is the Bills finale at Detroit on Aug. 30. That game would have extra special meaning to Troup, because he grew up, and still has family and friends in Detroit.
''Definitely,'' Troup said, beginning to choke up.
A light rain was falling, and as Troup discussed his uncertain future, it became difficult to distinguish the rain drops from the tears rolling down his face.
''Everybody's supportive. Everybody asks me how I'm doing, you know. Everybody's got my back,'' he said.
''I'm sorry,'' Troup added, before he turned and headed toward the locker room.
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