Inside The Bills

3 Bills get PFF Pro Bowl recognition

Posted by Chris Brown on December 17, 2014 – 10:37 am

They weren’t named to their starting Pro Bowl positions, but Pro Football Focus named three Bills players as reserves on their Pro Bowl roster.

Nigel Bradham, Corey Graham and Marcell Dareus all earned reserve Pro Bowl spots on the PFF all-star roster. Here was their assessment of the Bills’ trio at their respective positions.

PFF PRO BOWL DEFENSE

Defensive Tackle
Starters: Aaron Donald (SL), Gerald McCoy (TB), Sheldon Richardson (NYJ) and Fletcher Cox (PHI)
Reserves: Ndamukong Suh (DET), Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ), Calais Campbell (ARZ) and Marcell Dareus (BUF)

Breakdown: Again we’ve taken some of the guys balloted as defensive ends and slotted them here, given how they’re used as interior defenders. No big surprises — all of these guys make enough plays that it would be harder not to notice them.

Outside Linebacker
Starters: DeAndre Levy (DET) and Brandon Marshall (DEN)
Reserves: Thomas Davis (CAR) and Nigel Bradham (BUF)

Breakdown: Again we’ve changed things around so we’re looking at those traditional 4-3 outside linebackers. Levy was an easy pick with a superb season as the Detroit defense dominated. Marshall has rightly got plenty of credit with a breakout year.

Cornerback
Starters: Chris Harris Jr. (DEN), Vontae Davis (IND), Darrelle Revis (NE) and Richard Sherman (SEA)
Reserves: Orlando Scandrick (DAL), Sean Smith (KC), Desmond Trufant (ATL) and Corey Graham (BUF)

Breakdown: One of the more controversial positions. Harris and Davis have had wonderful years, while Revis and Sherman have in different ways dominated against quality opposition. The more up-and-down nature of years by others left room for players in smaller markets (Graham) to make quite the impression and get backup duties.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Graham: We’ve set the standard now

Posted by Chris Brown on December 15, 2014 – 8:52 am

The Bills defense has played well all season long, but over the last two weeks holding both Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers without touchdown passes and picking off four passes has been downright unthinkable. We cover Buffalo’s defensive prowess in depth in our feature story on Buffalobills.com. But veteran CB Corey Graham, who always believed this kind of play on their side of the ball was possible now says they’ve set a standard they have to meet every week moving forward.

“We have to obviously continue to play like that but once we do that, now the mark is set,” said Graham. “Now you got to expect that every week from everybody and that’s what we got to do. We’ve got to make sure we’re locked in and ready to go every week.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Corey Graham’s BOSE playlist

Posted by buffalobills.com on December 13, 2014 – 12:47 pm

This year BOSE, the Official Sound of the Bills, is going to bring insider access to fans by showing fans what songs Bills players listen to on game day.  For 12 weeks during the 2014 season, a different Bills player will be featured in the Player Playlist, presented by BOSE.  For this week, it’s Bills CB Corey Graham.  Check out the songs Corey will be listening to on Sunday to get him pumped up before he takes on the Packers.

coreygraham_bose2


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Posted in Corporate, Inside the Bills, Off the Field

Bills end Manning streak

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 1:45 pm

Buffalo’s defense had a solid performance Sunday holding a team that normally scores 35 points per game at home to 11 points below that average. They also brought an end to a consecutive games streak held by Peyton Manning.

Manning had thrown at least one touchdown pass in 51 straight games, but that streak came to an end Sunday as all three Denver touchdowns were scored on the ground by C.J. Anderson.

Manning shrugged off the end of the streak.

“I guess the touchdown streak, the consecutive games? That is something that—I’ve broken a lot of records and set a lot of records due to playing for a long time and playing well at times, but it’s never been something that I’ve been about,” said Manning. “So I don’t need to break or set another record. It was important to get a win. [RB] C.J. [Anderson] did a good job down there in the red zone, getting in there on those runs. Those are hard earned runs down there. It was good to improve our red zone.”

Corey Graham was glad they held Manning without a TD pass, but would’ve preferred they kept the Broncos out of the end zone altogether.

“It’s good,” said Corey Graham of holding Manning without a touchdown pass. “Obviously as a defensive group, especially DBs, you don’t want to give up any passing touchdowns so it’s good for us. But we’ve got to find ways for the defense to hold and stop them from scoring points completely.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Broncos had field position edge

Posted by Chris Brown on December 8, 2014 – 12:50 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone thought going in that field position would be huge in their game with Denver and he was right.

The problem was Denver had the advantage for virtually the entire game. Both teams had 11 possessions in the game. For the Bills only two of their 11 possessions began outside their own 20-yard line. Those two possessions that began beyond their own 20 came off interceptions by Corey Graham and Stephon Gilmore. Both Graham and Gilmore actually returned the interceptions into Denver territory, but they were called back on penalty.

“Yeah it was frustrating,” said Graham. “Obviously you want to get points whenever you can. I was trying my best to get (to the end zone). It was unfortunate that we weren’t able to score points or that I wasn’t able to score points on that. But you’ve just got to keep playing.”

The two penalties on Buffalo’s interceptions wiped out 76 return yards and a drive start that could’ve been at the Denver 20 wound up at the Bills’ 40, and a drive start that could’ve been at the Denver 38 instead started at the Bills 26.

Meanwhile for Denver their two worst drive starts were their own 20 and own 25. They also had a pair of drive starts in Buffalo territory (not counting the third at the end of the game when Manning kneeled out the clock).

At the end of the game the average drive start for the Bills was their own 19. For the Broncos it was their own 42.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Bills have leadership for December games

Posted by Chris Brown on December 6, 2014 – 4:31 pm

They’ve played in meaningful December games before. Heck they’ve played in meaningful January games before. That’s the main reason why players like Corey Graham, Brandon Spikes and Boobie Dixon were signed by Buffalo in the offseason. With players that haven’t experienced being in true playoff contention on this roster, the Bills added veteran players capable of showing the way. Now they hope in the biggest December game for Buffalo in 10 years that the experience pays dividends.

“That was one of the things we talked about before I signed here,” said Corey Graham on the John Murphy Show this week. “They wanted guys with character and leadership who have played at the highest level. So everything was factored in when I was brought here. So I try to lead by example and help guys. I show the young guys how to study, prepare and hopefully win.”

Head coach Doug Marrone has noticed a change for the better in leadership this season in comparison to year one on his watch.

“We’ve brought in some players who have helped quite a bit. There’s been much better leadership from within the team,” Marrone told Buffalobills.com. “So there are a lot of things that are going on from a positive standpoint that we need to continue to build on to make sure none of this adversity, whatever it may be, affects (our success).”

“It’s going to be a great challenge,” said Dixon. “These are the type of games you live for. You got the big dogs, the AFC Champions, going into their house, the crowd is going to be against you. There’s just so much motivation that goes into it. It’s one of those moments where you just sit back and say, ‘Ok, it’s here.  And then when its time on Sunday you go out there and let it go, lay out for your teammates, play hard until the end and see what happens.”

“It’s different. There is a little more on the line,” said Graham. “Games are a little bit more important especially for a team that prides itself on defense. It gets colder and teams can’t throw as much and so it favors the defensive teams and you look forward to those games. I’ve played in a lot of those games and it gets bigger and bigger as time goes on.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

CB Graham eager to face Manning again

Posted by Chris Brown on December 6, 2014 – 3:30 pm

Appearing on the John Murphy Show this week, Corey Graham was asked by the Bills play-by-play man about the 2012 Divisional playoff victory by the Baltimore Ravens over the home standing Denver Broncos in overtime that propelled the Ravens to the Super Bowl where they won their second NFL title.

Murphy thought it might be Graham’s most memorable victory. Graham said it’s not even the most memorable game against the Broncos. He’s still smarting from the 2013 season opener against the Broncos, when as the defending Super Bowl champs they were embarrassed by Denver.

“The last time I played against Denver sticks in my mind way more than our Division playoff win. The last time I played the Broncos when I was with the Ravens it was opening night after we won the Super Bowl and (Peyton Manning) lit us up. He threw for like seven touchdowns. So that game hurts and it’s more memorable to me than anything.

“Coming off the Super Bowl year the way he humiliated us out there, I still feel a certain way and I can’t wait for the opportunity to go against him again.”

In the Divisional win over Denver, Graham had an interception return for a touchdown and had another INT in overtime to set up the game-winning score. It all means nothing to Graham.

“That game he did that to us last year, I can’t forget it,” said Graham. “It’s been on my mind all last year and all of this year. I just couldn’t wait for another opportunity to play against him. I remember that game more than the playoff game that we won.”

Graham says at age 38 Manning can still make all the throws like he always has, but it’s clear that Manning’s dismantling of the Ravens defense in 2013 is something he took personally and feels he has to make things right on Sunday.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

What Bills get with Graham in for McKelvin

Posted by Chris Brown on November 17, 2014 – 3:21 pm

Late last week we spelled out how with Leodis McKelvin out indefinitely that Corey Graham would be his replacement in the lineup. Now that it’s been announced that McKelvin is out for the season with his fractured ankle we compiled the numbers from their snaps at cornerback this season to see where Buffalo’s coverage would stand with Graham in the lineup. Here’s what we found.

Leodis McKelvin (551 snaps) leads the team with four interceptions, is currently the club’s third-leading tackler and is second on the team in pass breakups with eight. He also has allowed an opponent’s passer rating of just 79.2. Those are all very good figures. On the down side he did allow a pair of touchdowns, a catch percentage of 69 percent and 179 yards after the catch.

Corey Graham (316 snaps at CB) is the team’s fourth-leading tackler and is first on the team in pass breakups with nine. He has allowed an opponent’s passer rating of 56.1, which is fourth best in the NFL. He’s permitted a catch percentage of just 45.7 percent, good for fifth-best in the NFL. He’s allowed just 49 yards total after the catch.

So it doesn’t appear as though the Bills will be losing much at all at the left cornerback position with Graham now in the lineup full time. In fact they look to be making gains in some categories.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Graham on fixing missed tackles

Posted by Chris Brown on November 15, 2014 – 9:48 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone called Thursday night’s defensive effort one that had the most missed tackles that he’s seen in one game and his players did not disagree. Veteran cornerback Corey Graham offered his thoughts on how to address that problem and get it corrected.

“You’ve just got to get back to the fundamentals,” he said. “You do tackling drills all the time. Sometimes you get too high in your technique and things like that and you get careless and that’s how you miss tackles. Some guys are just trying so hard and running so fast that it’s hard to stop (and break down), things like that. But you’ve just got to get back to the basics. You can’t miss tackles in this league and you’ve got to get the guy down when you have the opportunity. That’s what we have to work on and get better at.”


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Crossman: Veteran additions grew the culture

Posted by Chris Brown on October 29, 2014 – 5:38 pm

He wanted veteran core special teams players as part of his four main special teams units (kick return, kick coverage, punt return, punt coverage) after a trying first year of running Buffalo’s special teams. Now halfway through his second season as Bills special teams coordinator, Danny Crossman is pretty pleased with the growth in team culture on his special teams squad.

Crossman credits players like Boobie Dixon, Corey Graham and Brandon Spikes for convincing younger players of the value of special teams to the outcome of games. It quickly emboldened incumbent special teamers like Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley, Ty Powell, Duke Williams and Ron Brooks to take on more of a lead by example approach for the new arrivals on the roster. Soon the importance and commitment to special teams play reached critical mass.

“The plan up to this point has worked. We’re excited,” Crossman said. “The guys we brought in for leadership as well as performance have done both at a high level. The biggest thing is that leadership. I think some of the other guys have stepped up who were here a year ago and some of the new younger guys that we added this year. Right from the get go they’ve been brought into that culture of what our expectations are and not only coach driven, but player driven. Anytime you get that you’re going to be successful.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rub plays were big in Chargers pass game

Posted by Chris Brown on September 21, 2014 – 6:20 pm

It began with a ‘pick play’ on Nickell Robey, who lost Malcom Floyd after his pursuit was re-routed by an intersecting receiver. Floyd was wide open and went 49 yards and into Buffalo territory before he was brought down. It was the first, but certainly not the last time the Chargers resorted to the ‘rub play’ to get one of their receivers some separation from his defender.

“We didn’t make the plays when they came our way,” said Corey Graham. “They pretty much ran a lot of pick routes, a lot of speed outs, a lot of crossers and we sat back and gave it to them. We weren’t aggressive enough. We didn’t make enough plays.”

When asked specifically what was a thorn in the pass defense’s side, Graham laid it out.

“Pick plays,” he said. “They put receivers in the slot and they would run a little rub routes –the number two receiver and the number one receiver.  They had that big play early on with that.  They ran a couple of them.  That was the big thing—we didn’t adjust well to what they were doing and if you don’t adjust you’ll lose games.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Rotation at CB will continue

Posted by Chris Brown on September 16, 2014 – 9:36 am

In Week 1 Stephon Gilmore wasn’t available to play so Leodis McKelvin and Corey Graham started. But come Week 2 Gilmore was healthy along with McKelvin and Graham. Gilmore and Graham started the game, but by game’s end Gilmore had 53 snaps and McKelvin 33 including a late INT. Head coach Doug Marrone confirmed that the Bills are going to continue rotating their top three corners during games provided all three are healthy.

“All three (are starters),” said Marrone. “I’m not trying to play games. We’ve been rotating them from day one since they’ve been back. I keep saying the same thing. Everyone is trying to pin, ‘Who are the two (starters)? Who are the two (starters)?’ But we’ve got a pretty good deal going if we have three guys.

“I firmly believe, with the level that they’re playing, that those three players will produce more than if it’s just two. We only have an opportunity one or two of those guys maybe wearing out, whereas now we have all three and it’s a long season. We’re in good shape until something separates.”

Marrone means if one of those three is performing really well they’ll see more of the work. Such was the case with Corey Graham. He had a solid Week 1 when Gilmore was out and started in Week 2 where he played 91 percent of the snaps. Gilmore and McKelvin split time in Week 2 with Gilmore seeing 53 snaps to McKelvin’s 33.”

When Marrone was asked specifically if McKelvin and Gilmore’s snap counts would increase he couldn’t give a definitive answer, knowing both are limited by soreness coming off their offseason hip surgeries and Gilmore coming off an additional groin injury suffered right before the season opener.

“I don’t know if I can expect their snap count to increase, only because we haven’t started practicing again this week,” he said. “Again, I think we’re going on basically just how they feel, as far as coming off the injuries from last week. I still think the same thing. If you ask me what the best thing is I would say, ‘Hey, we have three corners that 33, 33 and 33 and play those percentages, we would be a better team.”

Marrone said moving forward they’ll keep playing Gilmore, McKelvin and Graham.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

The fans meant a lot

Posted by Chris Brown on September 14, 2014 – 7:19 pm

It was unanimous in Buffalo’s locker room following their 29-10 win over Miami, Bills fans played a role in the victory.

“Do our players feel that (energy from the fans)? Absolutely,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “To sit here and say our fans weren’t a big part of it (is ridiculous). Those third downs and I know there was a another penalty that the fans caused. It was outstanding. That’s why I think that this is one of the toughest places to play.”

“It’s definitely a way to get us amped up,” said Mario Williams of the crowd noise. “Whenever you’ve got the home crowd behind you and their yelling and screaming and getting pretty hyped out there it definitely relays to the field.”

“It was beyond what I expected, the fans were so amazing and I felt the energy the whole day while we were out there, they never let up,” said Corey Graham, a Buffalo native who had 10 tackles and three pass breakups. “It was unbelievable, I never in a million years dreamed that it would be that special.”

“It means a lot just to have our fans out here and engaged,” said Sammy Watkins. “They helped us with the win. It was amazing and the team, we just have to keep giving the fans and the community something to believe in. I think if we keep winning, they’ll keep believing in us.”

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Graham: EJ had the team pumped up to play

Posted by Chris Brown on September 8, 2014 – 10:16 am

Bills veteran CB Corey Graham appeared on Kiss 98.5 this morning as their difference maker of the game. Head coach Doug Marrone said the locker room had a different vibe before the game, in a good way. Graham explained why things were different when the team went out on the field.

“EJ was fired up,” said Graham. “He got the whole team fired up. He pretty much inspired everybody. It was the first time on any team I’ve been on where I’ve seen a quarterback get that excited and get that fired up and excited and ready to play a game. That really got guys pushed over the top and really got guys ready to play. That’s what they were talking about when they said the locker room was different and how excited everybody was and how focused everybody was. It was EJ. It was EJ leading, it was EJ inspiring and it was EJ bringing some passion with it. I think that’s what everybody was talking about.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Team leaders stood tall

Posted by Chris Brown on September 7, 2014 – 9:25 pm

The Bills just named their captains last Monday. Six days later just about all of them had a pretty big hand in Sunday’s overtime victory.

The six players named captains were Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Eric Wood, Fred Jackson, Corey Graham and Brandon Spikes.

On offense Wood helped lead an offensive line that was new in terms of playing together and surrendered just one sack all day. They also helped the run game roll up almost 200 yards on the ground averaging almost six yards a carry.

Fred Jackson had the biggest run of the day in overtime on his 38-yard rumble down the sideline to the one.

On defense Mario Williams had a sack, Kyle Williams had an interception, Brandon Spikes was instrumental in stuffing the run and Corey Graham had an interception and a couple of pass breakups late in regulation to force Chicago to settle for a game-tying field goal.

Add in EJ Manuel’s performance in his natural leadership role of quarterback and it’s a pretty good day for Buffalo’s captains when it comes to setting an example.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Captaincy nothing new for Corey Graham

Posted by Chris Brown on September 1, 2014 – 2:55 pm

Corey Graham was named one of six captains for the 2014 Bills by his teammates, which were announced Monday by the club. Named as a captain entering his first year with Buffalo was certainly an honor, but serving as a captain is nothing new for the veteran defensive back.

“I’ll pretty much be the same person I’ve always been,” Graham told Buffalobills.com. “I’ve been a captain pretty much everywhere I’ve been. I’ve been nominated a captain in Chicago. I was also a captain in Baltimore. So I’ve been a captain everywhere I’ve been so it’s nothing new to me. I just try to lead by example and play as hard as I can and help guys any way I can.”

Buffalo also had another captain named who just joined the team in the offseason in veteran LB Brandon Spikes.


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Schwartz glad to have Graham

Posted by Chris Brown on August 22, 2014 – 10:41 am

Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is pretty happy with a lot of the talent he has on his side of the ball this season. Having reliable players who execute consistently is something every coordinator covets. Schwartz believes he has that in a good number of his player, and confirmed recently that Corey Graham is one of them.

When asked what Graham has brought to the Bills defense Schwartz didn’t hold back.

“A lot. An awful lot. He’s a very good leader, he’s a student of the game,” Schwartz said. “He’s an excellent professional, meaning that he prepares every day. He’s competitive. He plays the ball down the field very well, he’s a good tackler. He’s very assignment sound. He gives coaches a lot of confidence in him. He’s been playing a lot of different positions for us. He’s been playing corner, he’s been playing nickel, he’s been playing dime. Even the last couple days he’s been playing some safety. I mean everything we’ve been giving him he’s done a good job with. I’m very happy to be working with him.”

After the injuries suffered by Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore last year Buffalo wanted to have another veteran corner that could play a lot and play well. McKelvin just suffered a groin injury earlier this week so Graham’s presence is comforting.

This Saturday however, Graham might be lining up at safety having been there in practice all week.


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Bills coaches have special teamers identified

Posted by Chris Brown on August 20, 2014 – 1:09 pm

Bills head coach Doug Marrone was asked about the importance of the last two preseason games as it pertains to jobs on special teams. Marrone gave strong indication that the core special teamers for their squad have largely been selected.

“I think we have that group,” Marrone said. “We’ll just wait. Obviously we’re still in a process, but I feel very comfortable about the guys that we have identified right now. I think when the roster is set, and we get down to the final cuts, we’ll talk about that role for those players.”

Buffalo signed free agents like Boobie Dixon and Corey Graham to provide some veteran leadership on special teams this offseason.

 


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Safety gives Corey Graham new perspective

Posted by Chris Brown on August 20, 2014 – 9:29 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone hinted at it as early as the spring, not long after Corey Graham was signed by the club as a free agent. He and the defensive staff wanted to get a look at the seven-year cornerback at safety. That didn’t happen however, until the final week of training camp, and Graham had put the thought out of his mind.

“I was a little surprised just like you guys of the opportunity to play safety, but it’s fun,” said Graham. “It definitely is a different look. It would be a fun transition. I don’t know how much or how serious we’re going to be about it, but it’s good to start to learn it. I kind of learned it already in the past, but it’s good to finally get out there and play a little bit.”

When asked about Graham’s prospects at the safety position head coach Doug Marrone downplayed the significant of the move. He indicated it was done to make sure Graham could handle the role in an emergency situation if there were a rash of injuries at the position on game day.

“We’re just making sure that we’re training people for game day stuff,” said Marrone. “You know, how we want to do it. If we have four safeties out there then he can play safety, he can play corner, he can do a lot of different things for us. We had to cross train. We cross trained the backers too with Preston Brown and Ty Powell (in practice).”

In his two days lining up at safety Graham has found directing the traffic defensively pre-snap to be the most challenging aspect of the job.

“That’s probably the biggest thing, telling everybody what to do and get everybody lined up,” said Graham. “The mental part of it is probably the biggest thing. Playing it is a lot easier than corner.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills

Starting secondary hoping to reunite soon

Posted by Chris Brown on August 18, 2014 – 10:21 am

The Bills are taking a conservative approach with starting CB Leodis McKelvin in his return from offseason hip surgery. He has yet to play in the preseason as he was inactive again against the Steelers Saturday. Though he is being slowly worked back into the practice setting his time with his fellow starters in the secondary has been limited. Stephon Gilmore only began to see more action in practice and preseason this past week. Even though there’s just three weeks before the season opener at Chicago the starters in Buffalo’s secondary aren’t concerned about their limited time together.

“We want those guys to come in when they’re ready,” said S Aaron Williams. “We never want a guy to rush just because one person feels like the whole group needs to be together. I want the whole group to be together when everybody is 100 percent and ready for the season. We’re not going to rush Leo (McKelvin), (Stephon) Gilmore or whoever else is hurt to come back at a fast pace. That’s just going to cause problems later down the road. Whenever they’re ready to come back and feel 100 percent because they know their bodies more than we do then the excitement will come.”

What has kept the secondary from being concerned about fewer reps than usual on the practice field together is the time they’ve spent on the field over the past two seasons.

“Yeah it’s definitely an advantage when you have a few years under your belt together,” said Williams. “You know the chemistry of each other and you know how each person thinks and plays. Leo has a different playing style than Stephon. The fact that Da’Norris and I know that makes the calls a lot faster and a lot easier.”

A beneficial byproduct of McKelvin’s absence has been the opportunity for the rest of the secondary to get used to lining up and playing with veteran free agent signee Corey Graham.

“I’m with Corey every day and I talk to him and try to pick out how he plays. Every meeting we sit next to each other and have conversations about what’s going on and how he thinks and how I play things,” said Williams. “That communication has really helped both of us out especially with our chemistry knowing we have to get ready for the season. Corey has been with us a few months now and I’m starting to learn more and more about him.”


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Posted in Inside the Bills