Bills minicamp observations: Matt Milano takes step forward in his recovery


Staff member

Star linebacker Matt Milano took another step forward in his recovery from a devastating leg injury by returning to on-field practice as the Buffalo Bills opened their minicamp Tuesday in Orchard Park.

The seven-year veteran took part in individual linebacker drills and in full-defense walkthrough sessions on the grass field next to the ADPRO Training Center. He still was held out of 11-on-11 full team portions of practice. The Bills practiced in jerseys, shorts and helmets, with no shoulder pads.

Milano, who made first-team All-Pro in 2022, suffered a broken leg in the game against Jacksonville on Oct. 8 and missed the rest of the season. He suffered a broken right tibia — the bone that runs down the front of the leg — just below the knee.

Bills linebacker Matt Milano catches a ball in a drill during a mandatory NFL football minicamp on Tuesday. Harry Scull Jr., Buffalo News
Especially given the veteran departures from the Bills’ defense in the offseason, the return of Milano to his 2022 form is a critical piece to the defense’s success in 2024. Milano was off to a great start in the first four weeks of the 2023 season before the injury.

“It’s big,” said coach Sean McDermott of Milano’s return to the field. “Credit to Matt and what he’s been able to do with our training staff and the work he’s put in. He’s so focused. He was focused before this. I feel like he’s even more focused, if that’s even possible now, in wanting to get back out there for himself, but also for his teammates.”

Milano said after the season that he avoided ligament damage in the injury. But exactly where the break was on the tibia hasn’t been acknowledged. If it was at the top of the bone, that’s a longer recovery period.

McDermott seemed hopeful Milano will be ready for the start of training camp. Milano will be 9½ months removed from the injury by the start of camp.
“He’ll continue to build through the break that we’re going to go on,” McDermott said. “And then hopefully in training camp, he’s at a spot where when we open up, he’s available. . . . We’ll just have to see.”

Pass coverage sound​

Mostly solid pass coverage by the secondary has been a theme of the Bills’ spring practices. That continued again on the first day of minicamp.
In 7-on-7 work, Josh Allen opened with a nifty pass of 20 yards down the left sideline to tight end Dalton Kincaid, who cleanly plucked the ball over the head of Taron Johnson.

But then Allen had to hold the ball in the pocket and threw a deep incompletion for Khalil Shakir. Then James Cook couldn’t hang onto a checkdown with veteran linebacker Deon Jones in tight coverage. A few plays later cornerback JaMarcus Ingram had good coverage on Chase Claypool to force an incompletion on an intermediate sideline pass.

In the first 11-on-11 session, Allen started with a quick completion to slot receiver Andy Isabella. But then Allen threw incomplete for K.J. Hamler against tight coverage by Rasul Douglas. Then Allen threw incomplete deep to an open Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who couldn’t make a late adjustment to a catchable pass.