Former UConn wide receiver Marcus Easley is entering his third NFL season. And this time, he's hoping to stay healthy and help the Bills compete in the AFC East. The team made strides early in 2011 before a 4-1 start turned into a 6-10 finish. Easley has yet to register his first professional catch; the fourth-round pick of the Bills in 2010, missed his rookie season after suffering a knee injury in training camp. Last season, the plan was for him to line up opposite wideout Stevie Johnson but Easley again ended up on injured reserve, this time with a heart condition.
He's since been cleared to play but admits that there have always been bumps in the rode when it came to football.
"It's never really been easy for me my whole football career," he said Tuesday via WGR550.com. "To be able to come out here on the professional level, everyone wants to have a good jump start to their career. It was just so unexpected. Injuries, no one plans on that happening, but it was just unfortunate."
But despite the setbacks, Easley has remained upbeat. Last summer, he called the knee injury "just another obstacle for me to overcome," and Bill head coach Chan Gailey seems unconcerned about Easley's state of mind during the team OTAs.
"You know, I donʼt think I need to talk to Marcus because his attitude has been so good," the coach said. "His work ethic, the things heʼs done in the offseason to get ready to participate, he has been so strong and so good. I havenʼt had to say a word to him."
Easley cited the support of his family, friends and teammates as reasons he stayed positive through the last two seasons.
"I just took the time that I needed to get away from football to correct what needed to be corrected," he said. "The brighter side is I'm healthy now and all the focus is on this year, you know just coming out here and competing."
Ideally, Easley would play well enough to line up opposite Johnson on Sundays. There's stiff competition for that role and training camp is still some six weeks off, but Gailey isn't ruling Easley out.
"He is an upbeat guy," the coach said. "He knows he’s got to fight an uphill battle to get into the fray but I think he can."