Buffalo Bills OT Seantrel Henderson thriving after battle with Crohn's disease

By The Sports Xchange
Seantrel Henderson. (Twitter)
Seantrel Henderson. (Twitter)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- One of the feel-good stories of a training camp that sure didn't produce many, was the return of offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson to practice. Henderson had not practiced in full with the Bills since last November after being diagnosed with Crohn's disease. He underwent a couple offseason surgeries, had to change his diet and go on medication, and there was a point when it appeared his football career could be over.

It's uncertain whether Henderson can still make the team, especially with the way Cyrus Kouandjio has performed in the training camp, but for now, Henderson is back on the field and competing, and that was good to see.


"It felt awesome; I've been out for about eight months so it felt great to be out there with my teammates and get back in the groove," Henderson said following his first practice on Monday. "It felt like playing my first game in the league, I was a little nervous because I've been out so long, but other than that it felt great to be back out here."


Coach Rex Ryan had Henderson working with the second unit, but with Cordy Glenn still sidelined and Kouandjio taking most of his reps at left tackle, Henderson was worked into the rotation with the first unit. "I'm really happy that he's been cleared to participate, that's a great thing," Ryan said. "Anytime it's a medical deal, you're just pulling for the individual, you know how much he wants to play ... you see how much a guy wants it. He had major adversity and there's only one way to do it and he has to be the guy that does it."

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Henderson knows he's way behind everyone else. He has been working with trainers right along in camp to maintain his conditioning, but he's still trying to gain back all of the weight that he lost and he said he's about 5-to-10 pounds away.

"As of right now, I've been out for a while so it's all about competing," Henderson said. "Whatever the outcome is, of course I would love to start. Jordan has it right now and he's my teammate and I wish the best for him and he wishes the best for me. Early on I had some of those doubts (that my career was in jeopardy), I didn't know what the future had set for me, I just kept doing everything the doctor said, eating right and moving forward to get back on the field," he said. "Not a lot's different, just the diet, certain things I have to stay away from. Stay away from the stuff know I have to stay away from and I think I'll be fine."


--The Bills are confident that they won't miss the recently released Karlos Williams. With the addition of Reggie Bush, and the emergence of Mike Gillislee, the Bills are comfortable with their depth behind starting running back LeSean McCoy.

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"We feel pretty good about it," said Ryan. "Obviously, with Shady, you've got a Pro Bowl running back heading the list, so that's pretty good. I think Reggie Bush is somebody that we know that we want to keep fresh, but he's still got a lot of juice left. And then Gillislee, I think is probably the No. 2 back right now. And then the young kid (Jonathan) Williams and then it was good to see James Wilder have a bounce-back game."

Jonathan Williams was the Bills' fifth-round draft pick this year, so he'll make the team, but if the Bills only keep four running backs, Wilder would probably be the odd man out, and he doesn't have any more practice squad eligibility remaining.

Gillislee, who is in concussion protocol this week and may not play in the Bills' third preseason game against Washington, is the favorite to be the backup primarily because Ryan has said he doesn't want to over-work the 31-year-old Bush. Bush was brought in to help in the return game and most likely get playing time as the third-down back because he can be a productive receiver out of the backfield.


"We're going to be smart with him," Ryan said of Bush. "I mean we don't want to just run his legs off as the No. 2 back. But make no mistake, he's going to play for us and contribute not just as a returner but on offense as well."

-- The Bills closed out the St. John Fisher College portion of their training camp on Wednesday, and it did not end on a very good note as three more players went down with injuries.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who has a litany of ailments that have sabotaged his first three NFL seasons, banged his head on the ground after catching a pass late in the workout and was taken off the field immediately and entered into the NFL's concussion protocol. He probably won't play against the Washington Redskins on Friday.

Starting right tackle Jordan Mills suffered a knee injury, the extent of which coach Rex Ryan was uncertain, and he could not finish practice. And cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, already battling an ankle injury, suffered a quad contusion and also watched the rest of the session from the sidelines.


Also, rookie quarterback Cardale Jones was held out for the second straight day as he's battling a shoulder injury that he incurred in the preseason victory over the Giants on Saturday. "It wasn't obviously a perfect training camp, but I think we accomplished a lot of things in this camp," Ryan said in his closing remarks. "We don't want to major in putting hurdles out there, but we seem to do a pretty good job of it right now."

Still, Ryan said he likes the way his team has fought through the adversity and stayed on task in preparation for the season, and he believes the Bills will be ready to roll come Sept. 11 in Baltimore.

"I think we've handled it extremely well," said Ryan. "I mean guys are focused and we're playing well, that's the thing. We're practicing well against each other, we're playing well, so that's a big thing."

NOTES: Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins (foot) is expected to make his preseason debut Friday against the Redskins, though Rex Ryan won't play him very much. ... Quarterback Cardale Jones has battled a bruised shoulder and he may not be able to play. With only two other quarterbacks on the roster, that means Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel will have to split the game. ... Cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman has been battling an ankle injury, and then he suffered a quad contusion Tuesday and is status for the game is unknown. ... Strong safety Duke Williams has made a strong push in camp and not only has likely made the team, he may be the starter if Aaron Williams remains sidelined because of a concussion. ... Running back James Wilder Jr. should see extended playing time in Washington as he's right on the bubble of making the roster.


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