December 3, 2022

Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White during the first quarter in his return to the field after a knee injury.
DETROIT – When wide receiver Stefon Diggs talked to cornerback Tre’Davious White before the game, Diggs tried to make Thursday seem like any other day. 
“I told him, ‘You the man. You’ve been the man, you’re gonna stay the man, stay confident, and it’s your game,’ ” Diggs said. “I told him: ‘It was a game you’ve been playing since you were a child. You know, treat it that way. Welcome back – the game missed you.’ ”
On Thursday in Detroit, White played for the first time since he tore his ACL on Thanksgiving last year in New Orleans. His status has been characterized as “one day at a time” by coach Sean McDermott for weeks, and White returned, though in limited fashion, on the same holiday a year later.
Here are photos from the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit, where the Bills beat the Lions 28-25.
“Just to have him back out there – Thanksgiving? He went down on Thanksgiving last year,” cornerback Dane Jackson said. “Man, shout out to T. White, my guy.”
The Lions’ offense had nine drives in a 28-25 loss. Jackson played all 67 defensive snaps, with the cornerback spot opposite him changing. White played the first two drives, Christian Benford for the next four, and Kaiir Elam for the final three.
White played 15 snaps, per Buffalo News charting. After the game, McDermott said the number of snaps White played went according to plan. There was no setback Thursday that limited his playing time, McDermott said.
“That (snap count) was in the range of what we thought,” McDermott said. “And now, let’s build on it.”
White declined to talk to reporters after the game.
“You can feel that energy when he’s out there on the field again,” safety Jordan Poyer said. “It was kind of surreal to go out there again after a year and see him on the field and I’m giving him calls and I’m just like, dang, 2-7 is back. So, he lifts everybody else up.
“It’s awesome to see him out there. I know he was on a pitch count, but we’re excited to have him back on the football field.”
Other than the start and snap count, White won’t show up in the stats: He did not log a tackle, and the Lions never threw his way. Though White had gone almost exactly a year without playing a game, Detroit didn’t test him.

A 28-25 victory Thursday over the Detroit Lions undoubtedly made the Thanksgiving turkey taste much better in Western New York, but it potentially comes with some indigestion.
Jackson said he wasn’t surprised that they didn’t pick at White. Instead, quarterback Jared Goff threw Jackson’s way early and throughout the game. 
Jackson had allowed four catches on seven targets for 73 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota, according to Pro Football Focus. Then, he allowed six catches on nine targets for 85 yards and a touchdown against the Browns. The third-year cornerback focused on the big picture of the season. 
“This league is so up and down,” Jackson said. “You’re gonna get plays, and you’re gonna make plays, so you just got to stay level-headed. Don’t get too frustrated. I mean, obviously, I’m a competitor, so I’m gonna get frustrated, but can’t get too frustrated. Just flush it.”
It helped that the Bills were leaving Ford Field with their second victory there in five days.
“I got a win, plain and simple,” Jackson said. “It’s a win-loss league; I got a win.”
White’s playing time ended early, as the Bills have always stressed ramping him back up over time.
“He’s so much of a competitor, I’m sure he still wanted to play,” Jackson said. “But just easing him back into (it is) the best way.”
During the first defensive series after he came out of the game, White stood for a bit watching and talking with safety Micah Hyde. Later, he would chat with team staff during drives. But in between, he stayed busy.

When the Bills needed Allen to be at his best, he delivered. When they needed Diggs to win his one-on-one matchup or find a seam in the coverage, he delivered. And when the offensive line needed to give Allen time to throw, they delivered, Ryan O’Halloran writes.
“Every single time I came back to the sideline, he had the iPad in his hand, as if he was playing,” Jackson said. “That just goes to show you the type of player he is. … He’s still involved. He’s still telling us everything.”
That approach from White wasn’t unique to Thursday; cornerbacks noted he’s done the same thing all season.
“He’s like another coach,” Elam said. “Tre’s gonna give you tips and clues. Even last week, I didn’t play, but I was on the sideline just listening to him. He was giving Dane tips about what to look for, and each receiver about to play. So, he was still studying film, even though he wasn’t playing. That’s just something that just shows what type of person he is, like caring and really just wants to win.”
Even if White has helped in a different capacity while he could not play, the Bills will still benefit from his role on the field expanding as quickly as is feasible. Using a rotation at corner is nothing new, and that plan might continue: both to give White a little more time to acclimate, as well as allow the two rookie cornerbacks to continue to get experience. Jackson doesn’t worry about the revolving door.
“I know those guys are going to hold it down,” Jackson said. “Those guys put in so much work, so I’m not even worried about who’s coming in the game, who’s on the other side, really. I know whoever’s in there is gonna do a great job.”
It’s a consistent mindset, even for the rookies.
“I don’t really worry about who will rotate with me when I’m getting there,” Benford said. “I just focus on when I get in, I go as hard as I can and try as hard as I possibly can. Ups and downs are gonna happen. I’m human. The only thing I can control is trying to give it my all.”

Jay Skurski grades the Buffalo Bills in their 28-25 victory over the Detroit Lions.
But on a defense that has been bludgeoned with injuries, some stability at corner would be a boost, especially if that stability comes by way of a back-to-form White. It is notable the Bills are 8-3, even though their All-Pro corner has played only 15 snaps. Those seven wins before White’s return are a testament to the defense’s resilience, despite plenty of starters missing time and a neck injury in Week 2 that landed Hyde on injured reserve.
But White’s credentials speak for themselves, and when he’s ready to play more, it will be a relief for the Bills. After all, it was significant to his teammates that he was able to play at all.
“It’s hard to explain,” Jackson said. “He’s just so much of a leader on our team, and all the young guys really look up to him. So just to have him out there, it just gives you that extra boost, for sure.”
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Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White during the first quarter in his return to the field after a knee injury.
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