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The Buffalo Bills are in a situation that many teams, including the AFC Champion Patriots would envy. They have more quality cornerbacks than they know what to do with: Terrence McGee, Jabari Greer, William James, Leodis McKelvin, Ashton Youboty, Reggie Corner, Dustin Fox and Kennard Cox. Only Fox and Cox are likely to see their names on the cut sheet this week although each has made a fairly strong case on Special Teams. Buffalo has a history of keeping strong special teamers, but special teamers lose out to players who can perform on defense. Especially when the six guys ahead on the chart are so good.
They say you never can have enough good corners in the NFL and it really showed in 2007 for the Buffalo Bills. When injuries came the Bills had to go deep into their backup pool and it showed. In the off-season, Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell and Head Coach Dick Jauron made sure that they wouldn’t get caught short handed again by loading up the roster. They added Leodis McKelvin and Reggie Corner in the draft (along with Kennard Cox who will likely be on the Practice Squad) and picked up William James in free agency. Seeing the writing on the walls, Jabari Greer and Ashton Youboty have really stepped it up in camp. Greer is building on what turned out to be a breakout campaign in 2007, but since he came from obscurity he still has something to prove. Youboty has mostly disappointed coming into 2008 but has looked great in the preseason.
All six of these players are talented and it showed last night when the Bills Defense made a mockery of Indianapolis’s 3rd and 4th string quarterbacks when Jim Sorgi showed up limping to the game. Given the situation you would expect the Bills defense to force some turnovers, but the Bills came up with 5. Youboty and Corner are clearly number 5 and 6 in the Bills’ current lineup but each came up with athletic, leaping interceptions. Making huge plays when the coaches are thinking about possibly cutting you is a good thing! Leodis McKelvin made a few dramatic leaps to break up passes, but most impressively boxed out the Indianapolis receiver on a deep route that made the commentators “ooh and ahh”. He was in perfect position to make it impossible for the receiver to make a play on the ball. A less intelligent player would have just run deep and tried to swat at the ball at the last moment.
These corners have hands. Terrence McGee also made a nice play scooping up a fumble recovery and taking off with it, and nobody can catch McGee. Opponents will not want to throw against these guys. They will be cutting off routes and leaping in front of receivers. This defense will be exciting to watch. Especially considering the team has great depth at safety and linebacker also. With Marcus Stroud making a mess up at the line this could really be a top 10 defense. An injury to stroud is probably the only spot where the depth is not strong enough to endure the loss and it would be devastating.
So what do the Bills do? They can’t carry 6 corners on the roster can they? I say they can and do. Both McGee and Leodis McKelvin will be returning kicks as well and Corner and Youboty will find plenty of work on special teams. The Bills will not have as many “special teamers” on the roster this year. In fact they have already cut most of the guys that fit that description. Overall its a sign of improvement on the team. Hey its only preseason, but if you consider that the Redskins were playing their 2nd preseason game to the Bills 1st (a big advantage) and the Bills Defense has smothered Pittsburgh and Indianapolis who both have strong teams, the Bills are looking pretty good. Its only the preseason, but its better to look good in the preseason than bad. Its never bad to play well, and the Bills defense is playing well. If its totally meaningless, why did the Indianapolis players look so agitated towards the end of the game? Because the Bills routed them good and a route always hurts.