Marcus Easley has overcome plenty of adversity to carve out an NFL career that has now spanned five years.
Easley went from being a walk-on at Connecticut to being taken in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He missed all of his rookie season after tearing the meniscus in his knee and landing on injured reserve.
The following season, he suffered from an irregular heartbeat and once again landed on injured reserve. Prior to the start of the 2012 season, Easley was cut, but joined the team's practice squad two days later.
Each of those situations have presented their own challenges. But nothing Easley has been through to this point prepared him for what happened to him eight days ago. Easley dislocated his left kneecap, which in turn fractured the knee in three separate places.
"It's been a rough week. A very rough week," Easley said Monday as the Bills cleaned out their lockers following the 2015 season. "Pain like I've never felt before. It's gotten a little better over the last couple days, but still got a long way to go."
Easley has already had surgery to correct the significant damage that was done. What's next is a lengthy rehabilitation process. Easley, however, hopes to be ready by the start of the 2016 season.
"That's the plan, barring no setbacks," he said. "You don't really know how things are going to play out over the next few months with rehab and working my way through it. But the plan is to be back for next season."
As Easley was covering a punt in the second quarter of a Week 16 victory over Dallas, Cowboys cornerback Deji Olatoye pushed him.
"It caused my knee to buckle and the impact of me hitting the ground with all that momentum caused the knee to break," Easley said. "I'm not going to lie, this was by far the most painful thing I've ever experienced."
As Easley was carted from the field, a towel was draped over his head, hiding the obvious emotions.
"I think it was a combination between me hurting, for one," he said. "And then just knowing everything I've had to endure and to have to go through something like this again, on a much more serious scale, emotions just got the best of me at that point in time."
Easley also suffered a concussion and shoulder injury during the 2015 season, each of which caused him to miss one game. In 13 games, he finished second on the season with 10 tackles on special teams. He also caught just the third pass of his NFL career, which went for a 58-yard touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London.
"I do look back, knowing I've been through some things," he said. "Like anbody in this locker room, we're all journeyman, we all have our own obstacles and adversity that we have to overcome, but every situation is different. This is the one at hand, this is the current task. It's a painful one, it's giong to be a long one, but just got to take things one day at a time."
Story topics: Marcus Easley