Pittsford, NY (WGR 550) -- Before Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Chris Hairston found himself in his current standing, he was taking the first-team reps at right tackle during spring workouts and looked poised to finally earn the starting role he's coveted since being drafted into the league.
One injury suffered in Organized Team Activities later, and Hairston finds himself losing valuable time and perhaps even ground to the players that are gunning for that starting job as well. While he wouldn't get in to the specifics of the injury suffered, calling it only a lower-body one and that we'd have to talk to the "upper-up" to find out the exact ailment, Hairston did vaguely speak on the manner.
"It wasn't something I could control like most injuries out here. It's just something that happened, something you've got to go through," he said. "You've got to deal with it, push through and get ready for this camp."
Because of this mystery injury, Hairston has found himself on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start training camp. That means he can't practice with the team and doesn't count as a roster spot, but he can still go to meetings and do work with the trainers.
Hairston conceded that it's a fairly large hindrance to his ultimate goal.
"I lost some time between OTAs and mini-camp, you know, that critical six weeks that you really have to get in that camp shape," he remarked. "I lost that time, had a little injury. It set me back a little bit so now I'm just building back, work my way back in, and be ready for the season."
Unlike the regular season PUP listing, Hairston can return to the active roster whenever it is that he is medically cleared. Seems simple enough, right? Hairston says there are some misconceptions out there.
"You've got to prove to the doctor you can go out there and survive the beating. It takes a lot. A lot of people don't really understand," he said. "Those doctors know what they're talking about, as much as you might not like it or the team might not. It is what it is."
Because of the "lower-body" injury, Hairston wasn't able to get on the training regimen that most players do in between the time mini-camp ends and training camp begins. So as to not watch his weight balloon, Hairston had to take other measures, including having the proper diet.
"That was a big deal coming in to camp. Had to lose some weight, and with the injury I've had I haven't been able to do the things that you usually are able to do in training," he stated. "Eating right, getting with [strength and conditioning assistant Dan Liburd], really focusing on that… I came in to camp lighter than what I played at last year and that's helped a lot."
So what's the timetable on a potential Hairston return? Is it going to be a long wait, meaning that Erik Pears has a chance to solidify the right tackle job, or does he believe he's got a chance to make it back rather quickly? Hairston is hopeful for a quick return.
"Yeah. All I can do is wait. All I can do is show what I can do and continue to do what they ask me and do it as best as I can," he said. "Starting like this is unfortunate but it'll all work out in the end."
The Bills get back on the field Monday afternoon at St. John Fisher College at 2 pm. The practice is open to the public.