Inside The Bills

Battle for roles at DT getting tight

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2013 – 8:40 am

Buffalo’s starting defensive line is largely set with Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams doing the dirty work in the middle. Behind them on the depth chart a tight battle is brewing between a handful of reserve candidates.

Players like Torell Troup, Jay Ross, Alan Branch, Jarron Gilbert and Corbin Bryant has all seen time inside. Several of them have been rotated in with the first unit as well for an extended look at times during the first two-plus week of training camp. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine admitted that was by design.

“Sometimes we have those guys, you always want to get a look,” Pettine said. “You can sometimes get fooled if they’re going against twos and threes whether it’s your own team or in a preseason game so we like to rotate those guys up. But it’s pretty clear to us that we’re going to have some tough decision to make in that room. You know you’ve built some depth at a position when you look at the math and figure out there are probably some pretty good football players that we’re going to have to part ways with.”

Pettine has said more than once that versatility is the strength of his defensive scheme, with several players asked to know how to effectively play two positions. For defensive tackles however, the versatility isn’t as high a priority.

“Not as much,” said Pettine. “We’d like to have those guys know two positions so it’s either the end and the tackle or the tackle and the nose, but it’s not as critical as it is for the edge guys or the off the ball guys.”

Troup and Branch have fared well when it’s come to neutralizing a double team to let other defenders make plays. Ross, Bryant and Gilbert have been in the offensive backfield more as penetrators. The next two preseason games will likely determine who sticks knowing that most NFL clubs rarely carry more than four DTs.


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