A long offseason of rehabilitation has new Buffalo Bills receiver Craig "Buster" Davis optimistic about making a good impression this preseason.
Davis, released after four disappointing seasons in San Diego last week, was signed by the Bills on Thursday. Receiver is not a position of need for the Bills. But Bills General Manager Buddy Nix drafted Davis 30th overall in 2007, and the Bills think he is worth a shot.
"Buster's got a ton of ability, but he's just never really done it," said Bills coach Chan Gailey. "He's worth taking a look at to see if he can come do something special, because he's really an extremely talented young man."
Davis had 20 catches as a rookie in 2007 but appeared in only five games in 2008 and 2009 combined due to injuries. Last season he had 20 catches through seven games but then went out for the year with a groin injury.
"They brought me into San Diego," Davis said of Nix and his staff. "They know what I can do. I just have to get over the injury bug I've had a couple years. I had groin surgery in '08 and 2010. But that's behind me. I worked my butt off this offseason. I worked out so much to get away from that old me."
Davis had surgery on his groin last November. He said he is fully recovered.
"This is the best I've felt since I came into the league," he said. "I came into the league with a slight groin injury that progressively got worse. I was training in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the past six months. I've been doing a real good job of keeping my body together and trying to prove to this front office that I can last a 16-game season."
A crew of NFL officials attended practice Thursday and Friday to make calls during team drills and speak to the Bills about rules changes. Scott Helverson, a back judge in his ninth NFL season, headed the group. Helverson worked the Super Bowl in February.
The main topic in meetings with players is rules changes related to safety. The first change expands the definition of "defenseless player" in the "unnecessary contact" rules. Added are the receiver who has completed a catch but hasn't had time to protect himself, a kicker or punter during a return, a quarterback following a change of possession, and a player who takes a blindside block from an opponent "moving toward his own end line" and approaches from the back or side. It will be illegal to hit those players in the head or neck areas or to hit them with the helmet.
The Bills signed free-agent running backs Bruce Hall and Anthony Elzy and released backs Vai Taua and Emmanuel Moody. Hall, 5-foot-11 and 205, was on the Bills' practice squad in 2008 and 2009. He spent part of last year on Denver's practice squad. Elzy, 5-10 and 210, was a teammate of Bills rookie Johnny White at North Carolina.