BUFFALO, N.Y. (WROC) — Jon Feliciano is excited to be back on the field, but he’s probably not as excited as the Bills training staff. Or his wife.
That’s who has been dealing with Feliciano while he rehabbed a torn pectoral muscle and sat out the first seven games. Feliciano admits he hasn’t made it fun.
“I gotta apologize to the training room and my wife because the last 7 weeks haven’t been my best,” he said on Thursday. “I owe those guys (training staff) some donuts… because they dealt with a lot.”
It’s been a long grueling offseason for the Bills guard. He had rotator cuff surgery in January and then tore his pectoral June 28th.
Feliciano called a pectoral injury the “worst” injury. It’s not so much because of the physical pain, but the emotional toll. He feels lucky to have an extensive support system among the Bills.
“When it starts hurting, you gotta keep your emotions right and not go in a dark hole,” Feliciano said. “Lee Smith and Josh (Allen) and (Cole) Beasley they definitely were the guys that kept me going and kept me on the right path.”
Players who are on injured reserve can sometimes feel lost because the season goes on without them. Feliciano appreciated his teammates making sure he wasn’t “left behind”.
Allen’s work in that department was made popular by a Feliciano instagram post where Feliciano famously called Allen “dad”. Feliciano clarified Thursday that Beasley was the original “dad”, but certainly appreciated Allen’s support.
“It means a lot when the quarterback comes over your house just to bring you wine and hang out.” Feliciano said.
It’s unclear whether Feliciano would slot right back into his right guard spot from last year or play on the left side. Brian Winters has started at right guard most of this season with Cody Ford at left guard. Ford did not practice for a second straight day Thursday and is very iffy for Sunday’s game.
Feliciano said he would play wherever the team needs him. He said he played left guard throughout college and had a handful of games on that side when he was with the Raiders. Regardless of what side he plays, the Bills will be happy to have him back.
“Jon as a person brings an energy about the game that’s fun and exciting,” Mitch Morse said. “As a football player… he’s a guy who brings intensity on the field and a guy who elevates everyone around him.”
The Bills run game could certainly use some elevating. Feliciano usually leads the Bills offensive line in nasty and that might be a big help by itself.
“He just plays angry. Like how it should be played,” Devin Singletary said.
Feliciano thinks the run game issues are more about a lack of continuity. The Bills have been changing offensive line starters all season because of injury or performance. Game one starter Quinton Spain is not even still on the roster. Feliciano believes line play is determined by how well the group of five works together.
“I think it’s more just our guys getting used to playing with each other,” Feliciano said. “We’ve had so much shuffling pieces. I think it’s going to take some time.”
He says this week of practice has been about getting back to fundamentals and getting the little things down. Feliciano thought Wednesday’s practice was more like a training camp workout.
As much as players don’t prefer the training camp level practices, Feliciano probably appreciated it. He hasn’t been in pads since January before his return to practice a couple weeks ago. Even then, he said Thursday he wasn’t ready to get back on the field for a game. He was grateful the Bills training staff made him stick to their plan that rebuilt his game strength.
“I was trying to get activated weeks before they did activate me,” he said. “Thankfully, they didn’t listen to me and they kept me safe.”
Even if he was grumbling about it the whole way.