Poorly timed injury could cost Christian Wade his NFL dream
A poorly timed injury is costing former England winger Christian Wade valuable pre-season game time as the clock ticks on his chances of making it in the NFL.
Wade made a major pre-season splash in 2019 for the Buffalo Bills, scoring a 65-yard touchdown with his first competitive touch of an American football.
Despite impressing in that pre-season, opportunities to make a mark in the game have been thin on the ground and now a fresh injury during the crucial pre-season period could cost the aspiring running back.
A shoulder problem has meant the 30-year-old has now missed the first two weekends of Bufallo Bills’ pre-season, a vital time for a player who is eager to showcase his abilities.
Because Wade has come through the International Player Pathway, the Bills are allowed to carry him as an extra squad member for the time being at least.
In his first football game ever. On his first NFL touch.
— NFL (@NFL) August 9, 2019
The franchise are obliged to cut their squad to 85 players by Tuesday, but Wade will be an addition to that cut.
Following that, however, the franchise will be forced to downsize to their official 53-man roster, at which point Wade could be either make the roster or be kept for another season on the practice squad under the International Player Pathway (IPP) program.
If Wade doesn’t make the 53, which is looking increasingly likely, the Bills will waive him. The NFL’s waiver system would allow the former Wasps flyer to be claimed by another team. If he isn’t claimed, the Bills team can sign the player to their practice squad as an IPP exemption.
It would Wade’s third year on the practice squad, an undesirable outcome for a player who’s already significantly older than what’s considered the prime years for a running back. Put simply, Wade, who is yet to play a down in the NFL proper, desperately needs game time.
If he doesn’t make the roster, Wade’s next best outcome may well be picked up by another team.
There’s also the possibility that Wade could look at playing a different position. His rugby skill set would certainly suit the punt returner role on special teams. In his short-lived NFL career, NRL convert Jarryd Hayne proved that the ability to beat defenders when running the ball back from deep was something that rugby players need very little upskilling on. Hayne took to the role like a duck to water, running up the highest average yardage in the 2015 pre-season for a punt returner.
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