McDermott said that White will miss the rest of the season.
“We’re going to do our best to support Tre and his family,” McDermott said. “I had a chance to visit with him yesterday after the game and just obviously, it was not an easy time and it isn’t going to be an easy time for him right now, and he’s got a challenge in front of him, but he’s overcome challenges before and I’m confident that he will overcome this challenge as well and that’s what Tre White does.”
White suffered the injury while covering wide receiver Tyreek Hill on a fourth-and-1 play in the last minute of the third quarter in the Bills’ 48-20 win over the Miami Dolphins. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver had a sack on the play.
White was attended to by athletic trainers and threw his helmet in frustration. The entire Bills sideline surrounded him before he was carted off into the locker room. Hill said after the game that he didn’t realize that White got hurt until later.
The injury comes less than two years after White, 28, tore his left ACL on Thanksgiving Day in 2021. It took the cornerback exactly a year to return to a game following that injury, but he has started every game this season after playing six regular-season and two playoff games last season. Per Next Gen Stats, White allowed eight receptions on 15 targets, two touchdowns, just 3.2 yards per attempt as the nearest defender in coverage and had two passes defensed this season. McDermott noted that White, in his seventh season, was starting to “really round into form. And so, it’s part of the shame of it all.”
Before White’s season-ending injury in 2021, he had missed only three games in his NFL career and never had gone through a major surgery. White said that the first few months after tearing his ACL were “a very hard, very depressing time.” In November 2022, he described that time as being locked up in his basement and that people from the facility had to drag him out. But from his time away, White said he learned about himself as well.
“I got more to give to people than knocking a pass down and intercepting a ball,” White said last year. “So, it was the first time in my life I sat down and was like: Tre’Davious White, what else can I offer to people? I know I’m bigger than just a football game or just knocking a pass down. I started reading, started to get into a different space. Just learning about myself, learning about what’s my purpose here on earth other than playing a football game.”
White was McDermott’s first draft pick after being hired as head coach in 2017, with the Bills taking him 27th overall out of LSU. Since then, White has started 81 games, totaling 18 interceptions and 67 passes defended. He is a two-time Pro Bowler and was named first-team All-Pro in 2019. Since 2017, White has allowed among the lowest completion rates, passer ratings and average separation as the nearest defender according to NFL Next Gen Stats, ranking seventh in completion percentage (53.6%) and average separation (2.35) as the nearest defender and eighth in passer rating (65.7).
The Bills’ defense currently leads the league in takeaways (11), sacks per dropback (12.2%) and is fourth in passing yards per game allowed (169.5).
“There’s [not] necessarily a benefit to playing without Tre White,” assistant head coach and defensive line coach Eric Washington said on Monday. “And what Tre provides for us is not something that you can compare and contrast. When he’s out there, there’s a reason why he’s attained Pro Bowl status. Why he’s been an All-Pro. Why he’s been someone that we can really, really count on to defend some of the tougher receivers in this league.”
Cornerback Dane Jackson is next in line to start in White’s place. Christian Benford, who started the first four games alongside White, suffered a shoulder injury in the game but was able to come back in for some special teams snaps and then on defense once White was injured. McDermott described him as “day-to-day.” The team’s 2022 first-round pick, Kaiir Elam, was a healthy scratch in the first four games but now will, at minimum, serve as a key backup. McDermott said the team will always look at available players but that “we remain confident in the guys that we have in our building.”
In positive injury news for the Bills, McDermott also confirmed that pass-rusher Von Miller will return to practice this week, opening the 21-day window during which the team can activate him from the physically unable to perform list. He is coming back from a major injury to his right ACL that he suffered on Thanksgiving.
The Bills are currently tied for the most sacks in the league (16) without the future of Hall of Famer. Miller has remained around the team, and McDermott said that they would take his situation “day to day.” The Bills head to London to host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
“Von has been present throughout this entire process, offseason and training camp. He’s raring to go,” Washington said. “He’s been an influence on the group, even from the positions that he’s been in. And I’m just excited that we’re getting closer to him being able to practice and just looking forward to him being a part of what we’re doing defensively. And anticipating the impact that he should have.”