ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — Bills offensive lineman Cody Ford has many coaches and added another one during the offseason, a mental health coach.
“I’ve come back this camp with a whole new mentality, a whole new mindset. In this whole offseason, the one thing that the recovery did allow me to do was it gave me time to think, it gave me time to rediscover myself and figure out what’s my why again and why I’m doing this and what it’s gonna take to get the job done,” Ford said Friday after practice.
It’s been a tough first two years in the NFL for Ford as he’s been battling injuries during those seasons, the most recent was a knee injury that ended his season in November. Ford was carted off during the first half against the Seahawks in week nine and later Ford had surgery.
And not only was the physical toll of his recovery tough, so was the mental aspect of it.
“Early on there were definitely mental hurdles. I’m not a selfish guy by any means but seeing the team go on to win, you know one of the goals we have is to win the AFC East and that allows us to have home playoff games so for the team to do that, you know I’m sitting on the couch with a cast on my leg, it was not fun,” Ford explained.
“But I’ve always supported the guys and seeing them do that was what kept me in good spirits knowing that they accomplished a goal that we set out.”
During OTAs and minicamp in the spring, Ford was in the red, non-contact jersey and even at the start of training camp, head coach Sean McDermott said Ford has the “green light” to practice but it would be irresponsible for him to be a full-go right out of the gate. And while the Bills are easing him back, Ford said there he has “no limitations” when it comes to his play on the field.
“But as far as the whole recovery process it was nothing but long you know started recovering the day after surgery I guess, just little things that we could do but I mean from December to now you know it was a rehab session that was probably the longest I’ve ever had,” Ford said.
The Bills drafted Ford in the second round in 2019 out of Oklahoma as a tackle and at first, he played right tackle but then they moved him inside and switched him to guard.
“Just being able to know I’ve played on both sides of the ball, the only positions I haven’t played are center and left tackle but I’ve played right tackle, I’ve played right guard, I’ve played left guard so if there’s anything that they need me to do, go the left, go the right it doesn’t really matter. I’ve been there before so at this point, it’s nothing new, it’s just I have to get back in the rhythm of things in that instance,” Ford explained.
Last season the Bills dealt with a number of injuries on the offensive line, Ford being one of them. Because of that, they never got a chance to see the exact five guys they wanted playing together on the line at once. Jon Feliciano started the season hurt with a pec injury was another injury they dealt with there so barring any kind of setback or new injury the Bills should finally get to see the five they’ve been waiting to have all out there at once to start 2021.
And even though Ford’s had a bumpy start to his career with these injuries, at the end of 2020 general manager Brandon Beane said he still considers Ford to be one of this team’s top five offensive linemen.
“It shows me that they still have faith in me as far as being hurt and the guys are still playing and for him to say that it shows that they still believe in me and I need to believe in myself just as much,” Ford said.
Hoping the injuries are behind him, Ford says we “definitely have not seen” the best version of himself yet.
“It’s a new me, it’s a new mentality and I’m just taking everything in,” Ford said.
It seems like the long rehab might have been a blessing in disguise in order for Ford to get his mind right and back on track heading into his third season in the NFL.
“My rookie year and then last year a little bit there was so much pressure just being in the NFL and still figuring things out, I kind of lost sight of that and this whole offseason I’ve dug deep, I went back home a few times. I heard this one quote in college you have to go back to where you was to get to where you’re going and that’s exactly what I did.”
Heather Prusak is a sports reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2020. See more of her work here.