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Bills see rookie filling Alonso’s shoes

Bills see rookie filling Alonso’s shoes Linebacker Preston Brown was one of the top tacklers during his career at Louisville. (Harry Scull Jr. /Buffalo News)

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The Buffalo Bills are coming to grips with the news Kiko Alonso’s season is over before it began.

Bills General Manager Doug Whaley released a statement Wednesday that confirms Alonso’s knee injury likely will sideline him all year.

“Unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and will most likely miss the 2014 season,” Whaley said. “He will be scheduled for surgery in the near future and begin a rehabilitation program at the appropriate time.

“We feel badly for Kiko because he has worked very hard this offseason in preparation for the upcoming season, but we look forward to his return with his style of play that made him one of the league’s outstanding rookies in 2013.”

So who is the next man up at weak-side linebacker?

The obvious candidates for fans to consider are newcomer Keith Rivers and Nigel Bradham, the third-year pro who started two of the last four games at that spot.

Rivers and Bradham, though, are not who the Bills think can help the most. Sources say they are looking at rookie Preston Brown.

The third-round draft pick from Louisville was outstanding at the team’s voluntary workouts and minicamp. Coaches raved behind the scenes about how well Brown practiced. The front office was thrilled with how he looked and Tuesday night became even more relieved they drafted him after word came about Alonso’s injury.

Brown is versatile. He was a tackling machine at Louisville and is a hefty 260 pounds. But he’s slick enough that the Bills used him as a first-unit nickel linebacker in spring practices.

Rivers is a veteran option. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2008 draft, but injuries have limited his career. In two seasons with the New York Giants, he started 15 games and recorded one sack with no interceptions, no forced fumbles and two recoveries.

Bradham’s importance increases, too. But he couldn’t unseat Arthur Moats from the starting lineup until Week 14.

Moats, a fan favorite for his personality and charitable works, was pedestrian on the field last season. The Bills let Moats leave in free agency.

Bradham made 38 tackles on defense with no sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles or recoveries. He finished second with 13 special-teams tackles.

email tgraham@buffnews.com

  • nomoO

    While it is horrible that the Bills lost a great defensive player before the season even started, it is not the end of the Bills defense. He will be missed, but can be replaced.

    Lee Iaccoca once told an executive to put his fist in a bucket of water. He then told him to look and see how much water had been displaced by his fist. He then asked him to remove his fist and then said "see how fast you were replaced?"

    The Bills will move on with out him and he will be replaced this year.

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Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.