Inside The Bills

Depth chart changes

Posted by Chris Brown on September 24, 2013 – 2:00 pm

In the wake of the loss of Alex Carrington there have been a couple of shifts on the Bills depth chart. Here’s a look.

First, Alan Branch is now listed as the starting left defensive end, with Corbin Bryant as his backup. Truthfully I see Branch rotating in to spell Dareus and Kyle Williams more than playing the end position. As coach Marrone indicated Corbin Bryant figures to see the most work in what is now Carrington’s vacant role.

On kick return Marcus Easley is now listed as the official backup to Marquise Goodwin, who is still recovering from a broken hand in Week 1. Easley hasn’t had much of an opportunity to return with all the booming kickoffs the Bills have seen the first three games. In fact Easley has made more of an impact in kickoff coverage turning in big tackles each of the last two weeks.

Finally Jim Leonhard is now listed as the backup punt returner to Leodis McKelvin, a role in which he served last week after McKelvin left with a hamstring injury. Leonhard was a pretty accomplished punt returner in college.

Even if McKelvin is able to play this week, it’s likely that Leonhard gets punt return work as the Bills will probably try not to overextend McKelvin with added special teams duties.


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Bryant likely to see most of Carrington snaps

Posted by Chris Brown on September 23, 2013 – 3:30 pm

The loss of Alex Carrington was a blow to Buffalo’s defensive front Monday, but the coaching staff believes one of their younger defensive linemen can help fill the void.

Head coach Doug Marrone believes the player who will see his snap count balloon the most in the wake of Carrington’s injury is first-year player Corbin Bryant.

“I think Corbin Bryant’s role will definitely increase,” said Marrone. “I’ve been very, very happy with the past two games with the way he’s performed. I think his reps will increase. Alan obviously played a lot so he has to be ready to do that. I think you’ll see those roles increased and those guys moving around.”

Bryant, a former undrafted rookie signing of the Chicago Bears in 2011, spent the fall of that year on Pittsburgh’s practice squad, then joined Buffalo’s practice squad late in the 2012.

At 6’4″ and 300 pounds, Bryant most resembles Carrington’s physical skill set in terms of athleticism for a big man. He was already working in on Buffalo’s defensive line as a rotational player in Week 2. Against Carolina he played 17 snaps and this past Sunday long before Carrington was hurt, he got 20 snaps of work.

That number could easily double this Sunday.


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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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Other possible sleeper candidates

Posted by Chris Brown on July 11, 2013 – 9:33 am

In our Top 25 questions until training camp we profile some of the top sleeper candidates for this summer’s camp at St. John Fisher today (Thursday). Here are a couple of additional names that could factor into the sleeper category as well.

FB Frank Summers – The blocking back is a bowling ball, but has some receiving ability and can play a role on special teams. With veteran Corey McIntyre no longer on the roster, Summers is the closest thing to a true fullback. It’ll likely come down to what the offensive staff feels they need and the play of profiled sleeper Kendall Gaskins.

WR Kevin Elliott – The receiver offers great size at 6’3″ and 205 pounds and has demonstrated an ability to use his body to shield defenders from the ball. Elliott runs well and looked to be a player that the quarterbacks looked for when he ran with the second and third units.

DE Corbin Bryant – Getting a fair amount of reps with the second unit as an end, the 330-pound Bryant is a sizable force that could land a role on the practice squad where the defensive staff could further develop the Northwestern product.


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