ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Even though he’s cleared for air travel, safety Jordan Poyer’s commute to the Buffalo Bills’ next game will thankfully be much shorter.
Rather than spending 17 hours sitting in the back of a rented van on the way to Kansas City two weeks ago, Poyer’s route Sunday will cover just a few miles from his home in suburban Buffalo to the Bills' stadium for a night game against the Green Bay Packers.
“Yes, ready to play a home game,” Poyer said Wednesday, when asked if he was done with driving.
Poyer was so tired of traveling, he turned down a chance to head to his offseason home in south Florida during the team’s bye last week even after the team’s medical staff cleared him to fly.
“It felt like by the time I left to go back home, I’d probably have to turn right back around and get back up here,” he said. “I decided to stay out here and try to get my body right.”
The 10th-year player was placed in the relatively unique position of taking the long road to play in Buffalo’s 24-20 victory over the Chiefs on Oct. 16.
Though cleared to play against Kansas City, Poyer was not cleared to fly because he was still recovering from a punctured lung, which was the result of rib injuries he sustained in a 23-20 win over Baltimore two weeks earlier.
The Bills medical staff feared the air pressure changes that come with air travel could complicate Poyer’s breathing.
“Initially, I was a little frustrated at the situation,” Poyer said, noting he had difficulty comprehending how he could play but not fly.
Poyer also dismissed the chances of aggravating the injury, which he said would happen only if he was struck in the exact same place and way as happened when he was hit while making an interception against Baltimore. The injury forced him to miss the following week’s game against Pittsburgh.
Once the concerns were explained, Poyer chose the next best option by hitting the highway.
Joined by his wife, daughter and a driver in a luxury van rented by the team, they split the journey into two legs, with stops at essentially the midway point in Indianapolis
On the way to Kansas City, Poyer watched a few movies, and focused on studying game film to prepare for the Chiefs while his wife tended to their daughter, Aliyah.
The return trip was much more casual and enjoyable, especially following a win.
“Aliyah asked a million questions. `Daddy, how much longer?′ And I’d say, `We still have six hours,’” he said, with a laugh.
“But it was a trip I’ll remember for a long time,” Poyer added. “We’ll all look back and be proud. I’m super proud of my family. For them to do that, it was crazy.”
The rib injuries were just the latest for Poyer, who missed several weeks of training camp with a hyperextended elbow, and also sat out a 21-19 loss at Miami on Sept. 25 due to a foot injury. Despite missing two of Buffalo’s six games this year, he and Seattle rookie Tariq Woolen are tied for the NFL lead with four interceptions.
“It’s been kind of weird, a little frustrating,” said Poyer, who had missed just two games to injury in his first five seasons with Buffalo. “But I feel good now. I feel I’m trending in the right direction.”
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