It's always a bad thing to see one of your star players go down. Especially if you are the 3-0 Bills, who are off to their best start in over 15 years. Losing Roscoe Parrish to a thumb injury that will span 4-6 weeks can be viewed as a blow to this team on the rise, but if you step back and look at it, it's not as bad as it may seem.
The Bills will surely miss his playmaking abilities on the field, in both the receiving and punt return games. He has scored a touchdown in both categories and is always capable of taking one all the way. However, in his absence, Bills fans can find a silver lining. Parrish's absence opens up two key spots on the roster that can get two key rookies the experience they need.
Leodis McKelvin and James Hardy will most likely be seeing a lot more playing time with Parrish out on hiatus. Both are very talented rookies that were unfortunate to be drafted by a team that happens to be very deep at their respective positions.
McKelvin, the Bills' first-round draft pick, came to a team that already featured two elite returners in Terrence McGee and Roscoe Parrish. Despite setting numerous NCAA and school records at Troy for his return prowess, McKelvin found himself sitting behind these two on the depth chart for returns. It's almost a shame to have such good talent being "wasted" because there was simply too much talent ahead of him.
Bobby April did start utilizing McKelvin in a more visible role on kick returns during last Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders. However, with Parrish now being incapacitated, April can really let McKelvin loose in a full-blown returning role on punts. It's unclear if April was planning on slowly incorporating McKelvin into returns before the injury, but now he has little choice.
The same goes for Hardy, who was the Bills' second-round pick. Parrish occupied a valuable receiving spot on the Bills' roster and, like McKelvin, a talented young receiver found himself stuck behind several other talented players. Granted, Hardy did already have his first career touchdown in week two against the Jaguars. However, with Parrish's absence, he will begin to see an increased role in the receiving game.
These increased roles for McKelvin and Hardy are the best possible thing for the two young players. There's no better way to get better and improve your skills than actual game experience. Playing time for rookies can be a highly coveted thing on a team that is deep at several positions, and these two will see plenty of it in the coming weeks.
This situation will not only benefit McKelvin and Hardy, it will be making a young, emerging Bills team even better. Developing as many players as you can, with as much playing time as possible, is something that will make a stronger team that has the all-important depth-factor.
If the Bills are looking to go to the playoffs this season, they can't be worried about the possibility of losing key players to injury. By developing these young players, an injury late in season won't have as big an impact on the team's overall performance.
The Bills are already well aware of how big an impact injuries can have if they start to pile up. Last season, the team suffered a league-high 17 season-ending injuries. They've been lucky so far this season in avoiding too many injuries. However, it is only week four and anything can happen in the NFL at any moment.
So, while it is a shame to see Parrish go down for an extended amount of time, there's no need to panic or throw any playoff dreams out the window. Parrish will be back in time for the team's first game against the Patriots on November 9th, barring any setbacks in his recovery. In the meantime, the Bills' young rookies will have an excellent opportunity to improve their game and make their team as a whole better in the end.
Stay tuned to the BFR for Tyler Dunne's take on the Parrish injury.