ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Tyler Kroft has more than one reason to look forward to Buffalo’s upcoming home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Not only are the Bills facing his former team, Kroft is getting closer to making his debut after missing the past four months with a broken foot.
Kroft was a full participant in practice Wednesday for the first time since the start of spring practices in May.
“I feel great out there. I feel like I’m running well,” Kroft said. “For me, the excitement started last week when I started playing again, practicing again. So I’m going to keep building each day and if Coach gives me the nod to go, I’ll be ready.”
Bills coach Sean McDermott was noncommittal regarding Kroft’s prospects for Sunday. But Kroft’s return appears imminent, which is an added boost for a Bills offense that has surprised and exceeded expectations two weeks into the season.
Buffalo signed Kroft, 26, to a three-year, $18.75 million deal in free agency with expectations that he would become the team’s new starter at tight end. The Bills had a need at the position after parting ways with veteran Charles Clay, who served as Buffalo’s top tight end for the past four seasons.
Kroft’s setback came immediately after joining the Bills, when he suffered a broken bone in his right foot in his first practice with the team. This came after Kroft missed 11 games last season with a broken bone in the same foot.
“There’s obviously some frustration with that,” Kroft said. “You never want to get hurt and especially coming into a new team I want to show them that they made the right decision bringing me in. So I try to come in every day and work my (behind) off.”
He returns to a tight end group that has been better than anticipated in his absence. Rookies Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney have shown promise in both the passing game and the running game, while veteran Lee Smith has stood out as a pure blocker.
“I love what we’ve got going,” Kroft said. “I think we’re playing with an edge right now. That shows up on tape and I like that it’s not just been one guy that’s been doing all the production. I feel like we’ve done a good job of spreading it out and getting a lot of guys involved.”
Kroft holds no ill will toward the Bengals, who focused their priorities elsewhere in free agency. His former quarterback expects him to thrive in Buffalo now that he is inching closer to being 100 percent.
“He’s a do-it-all tight end,” quarterback Andy Dalton said. “He goes really hard in the run game, understands offenses really well. I know when he was here, he was just a true pro. He handled everything the right way. And even in the passing game, too, he can kind of do it all.”
“So he’s a guy I really enjoyed having here and I know he’s going to be successful. Obviously he’s had the injuries that have kind of set him back, but from what I heard, this will be his first week back. And I’m happy for him to get back on the football field.”
NOTES: RB Devin Singletary (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday. He was injured in the 28-14 win over the New York Giants on Sunday. WR Andre Roberts (quadriceps) and CB Tre’Davious White (neck) were limited. … On Tuesday, the Bills signed LB Curtis Akins to the practice squad and released WR Tyron Johnson.