Inside The Bills

McKelvin eager to return

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

Bills CB Leodis McKelvin missed Sunday’s game with a strained hamstring, but he’s hopeful that he’ll be good to go Thursday night against Cleveland.

McKelvin said he sustained a grade one hamstring strain, the least severe, so he believes he’s going to have a good shot to play against the Browns.

“I feel like I have a chance,” he said. “I’ve been out for about eight days now and they gave me a span of seven to 10 days so hopefully by the time game time it will have gone away. We’re still on schedule with what’s been going on. It was a grade one strain so we’re sticking with the plan and I’ll keep working.”

The cornerback sounds like he’s in the final stages of testing the hamstring in rehab this week.

“I’m pretty much going through the phase now with how I feel when I want to burst and how I feel getting to my top speed. That’s what I’m going through right now day by day.”

The Bills have a late practice Tuesday afternoon. Whether McKelvin practices extensively will be a wait and see.


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Aaron shining, but safety where Bills want him

Posted by Chris Brown on September 30, 2013 – 10:39 am

Aaron Williams has put in a pair of solid performances at cornerback in relief of the injured Leodis McKelvin. His first interception gave Buffalo three points on a field goal drive and his second took points off the board for Baltimore in Buffalo’s end zone. But cornerback is not where the Bills feel he can help them the most.

“We’d like to get him back to safety,” said head coach Doug Marrone. “We really think that again he can do a lot for us back there.”

With respect to Leodis McKelvin, Marrone said the cornerback was very close to being healthy enough to play.

“I think that a lot of it when you say can that player go, a lot of it is going to be about how we feel, how much he can go,” said McKelvin. “I think again when you’re working players back in to you have to see it as, if it was 110 percent healthy and here we go, we’ve got some other players that we’re trying to get back too.”

Marrone said the matchups this week with Cleveland and obviously McKelvin’s availability will determine what happens in this short week.

“I think a lot of it we’ll go through the week, see who is back there, look at the team we’re playing, what we want to do schematically before we make those type of decisions,” he said.


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McKelvin inactive

Posted by Chris Brown on September 29, 2013 – 11:45 am

Leodis McKelvin is one of Buffalo’s inactive players today. That means Aaron Williams will start at CB opposite Justin Rogers. Here are the rest of the inactives.

5 K Hopkins
21 CB McKelvin
24 CB Gilmore
31 S Byrd
33 CB Brooks
59 OL Legursky
88 WR Goodwin


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Balancing reps for healthy & injured

Posted by Chris Brown on September 28, 2013 – 12:11 pm

Buffalo has a good number of players on their injured list who normally appear in their starting lineup. Most of them missed practice time this week and had to be replaced in the lineup at practice with reserves. The difficult balancing act for coaches is giving enough reps to the injured starter, so if he can play he’s ready, while also getting the reserve players enough practice time so they too are ready, should the starter be unable to go on Sunday.

Leodis McKelvin is this week’s example. He’s practiced on a limited basis and will be a game time decision Sunday. The tough part is they also have to get Aaron Williams ready if McKelvin cannot go. Williams this season typically plays safety, but has had to split his time at cornerback so he’s ready to play there if necessary.

“I think that’s the challenge,” Bills head coach Doug Marrone told Buffalobills.com. “When you have guys that are injured or not knowing their status until you get up to the game with a day to day situation, you have to do a good job during the week of making sure you’re plugging them in. When you go through those situations obviously you’re losing some reps making sure they’re ready to go. It hinders you in that sense, but you can’t make excuses. You have to be able to go out and play.”

 


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Leodis questionable, Stevie, C.J. probable

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2013 – 12:37 pm

The Bills injury list is long, but it sounds like most of Buffalo’s nicked up players will be available on Sunday.

The only major question mark is Leodis McKelvin, and a decision on him won’t be made until late Sunday morning according to head coach Doug Marrone.

“He looked good out there today, but again we’re just practicing. That’ll be a game time decision. We’ll bring him in early and work him out,” said Marrone.

Three starters on both offense and defense are probably after sustaining injuries in last Sunday’s game.

OUT
CB Ron Brooks – foot
CB Stephon Gilmore – wrist
K Dustin Hopkins – groin
WR Marquise Goodwin – hand

QUESTIONABLE
S Jairus Byrd – foot
CB Leodis McKelvin – hamstring

PROBABLE
DL Marcell Dareus – ankle
DL Mario Williams – ankle
DL Kyle Williams – Achilles
WR Stevie Johnson – hamstring
G/C Doug Legursky – knee
RB C.J. Spiller – thigh
OL Kraig Urbik – knee


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Loss of CBs has altered defensive approach

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2013 – 9:16 am

Losing Stephon Gilmore at the tail end of the preseason, followed shortly thereafter by Ron Brooks, the team’s top nickel back and now potentially Leodis McKelvin this week, Buffalo defensive coordinator Mike Pettine had no choice but to alter some of his more aggressive plans for the Bills defense here in the early going of 2013.

Bills head coach Doug Marrone confirmed as much in his weekly appearance on the Howard Simon show on the Bills Radio Network.

“Absolutely. Anytime something happens whether it be injury and you start moving people (around) everybody has strengths and weaknesses. You do have to start making adjustments and it becomes a chain reaction,” said Marrone.

“The philosophy is to go out there and play, but to be smart. We’re not just going to leave those guys out there all the time. We’ve got to mix it up. In this league if you put yourself in one situation they’re going to find it and take advantage of it. You try to make sure you can disguise it and do the things you’re doing so you can be aggressive and do what you need to do to win.”

Leaving cornerbacks out on islands less is one of the more likely measures being taken moving forward.


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Marrone: McKelvin a likely game time decision

Posted by Chris Brown on September 27, 2013 – 8:59 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone in his weekly appearance on the Howard Simon show on the Bills Radio Network provided an update on the chance Leodis McKelvin has of playing on Sunday against the Ravens.

“I think he’s got a chance,” said Marrone. “I think it’ll be one those things where we go out before the game. He practiced (Thursday) on a limited basis. He went out there and ran around and I think that’ll be a game time decision.”

Marrone confirmed that if McKelvin can’t go that Aaron Williams would line up at corner in his place, much like he did last week against the Jets when McKelvin left the game in the first half. Knowing McKelvin is also the team’s primary punt returner, the Bills head coach also relayed that if McKelvin is not dressed that Jim Leonhard would again handle punt returns as he did last Sunday.

Knowing the high impact nature of the cornerback position with the stopping and starting and turning and bursting that has to take place, that puts a lot of stress on the hamstring. McKelvin knows if his hamstring is not right, it makes playing the position almost impossible.

“Your hamstring is one of your key parts if you want to play this game,” he said. “If you don’t have your hamstring you’re not going to be able to do anything. You can’t open up and you can’t be the guy you want to be especially in the times that you really need to burst or stay on top especially in this defense. It’s critical that your hamstring needs to be right.”


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Stevie, Mario, Leodis working

Posted by Chris Brown on September 26, 2013 – 11:59 am

Mario Williams, Stevie Johnson and Leodis McKelvin re-entered the practice setting Thursday.

None of them appear to be full go as of yet, but the official degree of participation will be known post practice when head coach Doug Marrone provides an update.


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Ravens injuries at WR could be helpful

Posted by Chris Brown on September 26, 2013 – 9:55 am

Already without WR Jacoby Jones (knee) this week, the Ravens also have another receiver upon whom they’ve relied the first three weeks of the season dealing with an injury.

Marlon Brown, who has lined up opposite Torrey Smith, missed practice Wednesday with a neck injury. The origin of the injury is unknown since he played the whole game for Baltimore last week. If Brown can’t play it would leave the Ravens without two of their top three receivers.

In addition reserve WR Deonte Thompson was limited in practice Wednesday with a foot injury.

Absences at receiver for Baltimore would be a welcome sight for the Bills, who could be without each of their top three corners on their depth chart if Leodis McKelvin (hamstring) can’t play. Stephon Gilmore and Ron Brooks are not expected to play Sunday.


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McKelvin, Spiller working some

Posted by Chris Brown on September 25, 2013 – 12:21 pm

Leodis McKelvin and C.J. Spiller are both practicing here on Wednesday, but they’re not doing everything.

We’ll wait for the official practice participation designation from coach Marrone this afternoon, but both look to be limited.


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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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Carrington to I-R

Posted by Chris Brown on September 23, 2013 – 3:45 pm

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion once it was learned that Alex Carrington’s torn quadriceps tendon effectively finished his season and would require surgery, but the Bills defensive lineman was put on injured reserve Monday afternoon.

The move opens up a roster spot for Buffalo, which could be used to address the seemingly ever shorthanded cornerback position. Buffalo may or may not have Leodis McKelvin for Sunday’s game against Baltimore after he left last Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury.

Head coach Doug Marrone said he wants to see how McKelvin improves between now and Wednesday before passing judgment on his chances of playing this weekend. Buffalo is already without top corner Stephon Gilmore and top nickel corner Ron Brooks due to long term injuries.


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When we’ll know more on McKelvin

Posted by Chris Brown on September 23, 2013 – 3:04 pm

Leodis McKelvin left Sunday’s game in the first half with a hamstring injury. Head coach Doug Marrone is unsure as to whether he’ll be ready for the Ravens game.

“I don’t want to miscommunicate that one,” said Marrone Monday. “That’s the only one I’m not sure about. It’s a rest, see how you feel when you come back on Wednesday. How do you feel? Is it better? There’s a lot that goes into that. I don’t want to miscommunicate if he’s out for sure. If he was it’d be easy. I’d be like, hey he’s out. I’d tell you, but I really don’t know.”

The exact nature of McKelvin’s hamstring injury is not known, but if he has a chance to come back this weekend, it can’t be a serious muscle pull. It’s more likely a strain. Stay close to Buffalobills.com for practice reports later this week.

If McKelvin cannot play on Sunday Buffalo will be without their top three cornerbacks in Stephon Gilmore, McKelvin and top nickel corner Ron Brooks.


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Other nicked Bills should be ok for Sunday

Posted by Chris Brown on September 23, 2013 – 2:49 pm

Bills DL Alex Carrington wasn’t the only casualty in Sunday’s game against the Jets. Head coach Doug Marrone provided a rundown, but the good news is it appears most, if not all, will be good to play against the Ravens.

“C.J. Spiller had a quad. I believe he’ll be fine,” said Marrone. “Marcell Dareus had an ankle. I believe he’ll be fine. Stevie Johnson had a hamstring I believe he’ll be fine. Leodis McKelvin has a hamstring. We’ll see how that is when he comes back and starts working on the field.

“Mario Williams had an ankle, but he was playing the whole game and at the end he had an ankle that I wasn’t aware of until afterwards. We think he’ll be fine.”

The biggest question mark is McKelvin, whose progress between now and Wednesday will paint a better picture on how likely it is for him to return Sunday against Baltimore.


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Injury updates

Posted by Chris Brown on September 22, 2013 – 10:55 pm

The Bills had some big name players go down to injury on Sunday in the loss to the Jets. Head coach Doug Marrone provided a rundown.

“Leodis a hamstring, he didn’t come back,” said Marrone. “Marcell an ankle he didn’t come back. Spiller a knee he didn’t come back. And Carrington a knee he didn’t come back.”

Marrone said all four will be re-evaluated on Monday.


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Returners trying to stay patient

Posted by Chris Brown on September 21, 2013 – 12:05 pm

Buffalo’s kick returners and punt returners have largely been held in neutral the first two weeks thanks to big legged kickers. Not having an impact on the Bills field position has been tough to take, but head coach Doug Marrone is preaching patience.

Through the first two games Buffalo has just one punt return from Leodis McKelvin with three fair catches. T.J. Graham has the team’s only kick return back in Week 1. That’s been it. Everything else on kickoffs have been touchbacks.

Marrone has told his players not to force anything.

“I think you’re at the mercy and you have to be careful. You can’t get frustrated back there,” Marrone told Buffalobills.com. “We can’t lose sight of the fact that we will get opportunities as the year goes on and we have to be ready for it. That’s one of the most important things. The other side is we can’t become frustrated where we feel we have to make something happen and go for kicks that you normally wouldn’t go for. We have great patience. We’ll wait and when those opportunities come we’ll be ready to go.”

Marcus Easley is again expected to be the primary kick returner with McKelvin on punts. Easley could get some chances with Nick Folk ranking 23rd in the league in touchback percentage (57.1%) for the Jets. New York also just signed a new punter this week in Ryan Quigley after opponents had nine punt returns for 107 yards in two games.


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Other encouraging McKelvin numbers

Posted by Chris Brown on September 20, 2013 – 12:22 pm

As we profiled today on Buffalobills.com Leodis McKelvin is off to a solid start as one of Buffalo’s starting cornerbacks this season. Here are some other promising figures connected to his play.

Through two NFL games, no other cornerback has played as many snaps as McKelvin according to ProFootballFocus and despite being on the field for more plays than any other cover man, McKelvin ranks in the top 15 in passer rating allowed.

McKelvin is holding opposing quarterbacks to a passer rating of 51.9. That’s good for 14th best in the league.

Also encouraging is nickel corner Nickell Robey’s passer rating against is just 64.1, good for 19th, but he’s only been targeted nine times in two games. McKelvin has been targeted more than any other cornerback in the league with 26, yet he’s allowed just 10 completions.


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Blind faith

Posted by Chris Brown on September 15, 2013 – 7:00 pm

Bills CB Leodis McKelvin has not been a part of too many come from behind victories in Buffalo, but he was convinced they were going to win the game after Carolina’s late field goal made it 23-17 with 1:38 remaining and the Bills out of timeouts.

“I wasn’t worried, I wasn’t watching the game, truly,” said McKelvin. “I knew we were going to win. I told Aaron (Williams) before they kicked the field goal, if they kick the field goal we’re going to win this game. They kicked the field goal I was on the sidelines chilling out. Not paying attention to the game, but I wasn’t worried at all.”

I’m not sure if there was a Bills fan that was as relaxed at that point in time.


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Fan Friday 8-16

Posted by Chris Brown on August 16, 2013 – 12:30 pm

Preseason game number two tonight against the Vikings and a big night for Kevin Kolb. Here are some of your latest questions for this last edition of Fan Friday before the end of training camp. Keep the questions coming on email at AskChris@bills.nfl.net and on Twitter @ChrisBrownBills.

1 – Chris,

I’m sure your sick of comments and questions about Jairus Byrd but my question I didn’t hear many talk about is this: did the Bills (or Byrd for that matter) consider that Byrd may have a tremendous year and increase his value even more next year leading to an even high price tag? If the Bills do what they are hoping he will do during his franchise year did they not cost themselves more money by not coming up a little higher to sign him this year? Or, if that was a consideration, does that not tell us there will be no attempt to sign Byrd long term after this season and this season is nothing more than a bridge to get one of the Williams’ ready?

Thanks,
Ron

CB: Bills GM Doug Whaley has gone on record saying they will still pursue a long term contract agreement with Jairus Byrd after the regular season concludes. At this point you have to take Whaley at his word as the team’s new GM. In my experience Whaley usually means what he says.

Now all that being said there is some merit to the argument of signing a player to an extension a year prior to their contract being up. If for example, the Bills are convinced that Alex Carrington is going to have a monster season in this the last year of his contract, they might opt to try to sign him before this season starts.

Is there a risk? Absolutely. He could have a down year or sustain a career-threatening injury. But there’s a risk in every decision an NFL GM makes. That’s why their salaries are where they are. When there’s a significant call to be made, they’re paid to make significantly more right decisions than wrong ones.
2 – Hi Chris,

I am a former season ticket holder (tunnel endzone) from the glory days of the late 80s and early 90s now living in SC.  Thanks for all you do to keep out of town Bills fans up to date.  I’m intrigued by the Bills corps of receivers.  I have heard about the speed of Graham and Goodwin.  Do you think either has the route running ability to be the next Victor Cruz inside?  I have heard about the route running ability of Woods.  Does he have the potential to be a Wes Welker inside bracketed between Stevie, Graham, and Chandler?  Da’ Rick is also interesting.  Where do you see him in this mix?

As far as team analysis I see our biggest areas of need as the O Line (need a tackle and two guards), an outside linebacker that can rush and compliment Mario, and a second corner to pair with Gilmore as I feel McKelvin is too small and better suited to slot defender. Your thoughts?

Thanks,
John in SC

CB: Woods is a polished route runner, but he’s not a Wes Welker. Welker’s quickness in and out of cuts is rare. Woods is a sharp route runner, but he wins more on hesitation, change of speed and shoulder fakes than pure quickness. Stevie Johnson is the primary slot receiver. Woods would be the number two.

To say one would have similar production to Victor Cruz has more to do with the quarterback throwing him the ball than their own exploits.

Da’Rick Rogers is strictly an outside receiver. Big and physical with soft hands, he needs more discipline with his route running, but when he gets it he could explode.

McKelvin right now is the best option to line up opposite Stephon Gilmore when healthy. At 5’10” 185 his size is adequate and his arms are long, which helps in coverage. Ron Brooks, Justin Rogers and Nickell Robey are considerably smaller in stature and better suited inside. McKelvin is probably best as a boundary corner.

 

3 - @ChrisBrownBills

What is up with Mario? How come he doesn’t interview after practice? Did they ever say what it was with his foot?
Thanks
jvsafy

CB: He does usually once a week during the regular season and occasionally during training camp. Last night he did not stop for an interview because he had to get treatment with the athletic trainers. Head coach Doug Marrone did not say it was his foot that needed treatment. During camp there is typically an assortment of bumps and bruises that players experience that needs attention, especially linemen who endure more physical contact than other players.

I’m not trying to be a Mario apologist here, but even if it was his foot that necessitated the treatment I’d at least take comfort in the fact that he’s trying to take care of what’s nagging at him.
4 – Chris,

I appreciate the work you do on the Bills site, nice job.

A few points – when it comes to Byrd I think the Bills want to let this season play out and let some of their young safeties get some game reps (I.e. Searcy, A Williams, D Williams, Meeks) and see where they stand at the end of the year. While I think Byrd is a very good all-around player, the one thing I think he lacks, is that he is not a particularly big hitter, and I think that can change a defense when their safeties will hit.

The O line position that I think is more important than left guard is right tackle. Who do you think the right tackle will be, and how good of play do you think the Bills will get from that position?

We hear so much about the Bills up tempo offense but to me, that is not really an offense. Conceptually, in terms of routes, blocking schemes and personnel groupings, what do you think the Bills offense will look like?

Do you think the Bills need a legitimate big back? Certainly, CJ is a supreme talent, but to me, he is a space player, and to me 20 touches a game would be ideal. To me, Fred is a good all-around player, a good pass protector, a good screen game back, and a runner who makes his yards on a combination of vision, balance and using his blocks. But I think the Bills would benefit from a legitimate big running back. I think such a player could help on the goal line, third and short, and be a good complement to CJ and Fred. What do you think?

Chris

CB: Okay a lot to cover here. First, I disagree with your assessment that Jairus Byrd is not a hitter. He absolutely is a hitter. Evidence of that comes from the fact that since the 2009 season, no other safety in the league has more forced fumbles than him. He’s got 10. That being said the bigger hitters of the current contingent are Da’Norris Searcy and Duke Williams.

Right now I think the right tackle will be Erik Pears, who finally appears recovered from groin and hip problems the past two seasons. He’s moving as well as I’ve seen him and he’s as tough as they come. Chris Hairston, who is still on PUP, may very well miss all of training camp as he has not been moved onto the active roster yet.

Couple that with the fact that Sam Young and Thomas Welch have been unable to unseat him and it looks like Pears’ job to lose.

Concerning the Bills offense yes it will be up tempo, but it is a unique system that no one else is running. So I’ll give you the details that won’t give up the brilliance behind it. The easy identification is that it’s fast, but it’s also multiple personnel, slightly more run than pass (probably 52% to 48%) with stretch the field components. It has West Coast system roots with a physical edge to it.

It won’t be complicated, just fast and multiple in terms of looks.

If Fred Jackson is not the kind of goal line back you want because you don’t think he’s big enough Kendall Gaskins is the only back in camp (who isn’t a fullback) that is bigger. He’s 6’1” 238 and he can lay the lumber. He’s had a nice camp, but whether he can unseat Tashard Choice remains to be seen.

5 - @ChrisBrownBills

how’s Carrington doing? Was projected as breakout player but haven’t heard much about him?

TerryBdattd

CB: If you haven’t heard or seen much you might be living under a rock. He’s been a routine component of our highlight reels on Bills Roundup every evening we cover the day that was in training camp. I’ll let defensive coordinator Mike Pettine give you the assessment of the kind of camp he’s had (high praise).

“He’s a guy that we have a saying where we talk about playing like Bill, tough, competitive, productive, relentless, all the traits that we’re looking for in our guys,” said Pettine. “You go right down the list and he’s every one of them. He’s a guy that loves football, wants to get better, wants to get coached hard, asks the tough questions and it just shows up in his play.

“He’s probably our most technically sound guy up front. We emphasize to our guys that we want to get knock back on the offensive line and he’s probably our most consistent guy doing that, but the position he’s in I don’t think he’s going to show up on the stat sheet as much from a scheme standpoint. But to me he’s going to be one of the more important pieces of our defense.”

 


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Marrone not worried about depth at CB

Posted by Chris Brown on August 14, 2013 – 11:10 am

Bills head coach Doug Marrone spends time on the details when it comes to his football team. Keenly in tune with the measure of talent at each and every position on the roster, Marrone doesn’t harbor concerns about the team’s cornerback position.

Leodis McKelvin has been sidelined since last week with a groin problem as a result of overcompensating for the surgically repaired side of his groin. Justin Rogers is only now just returning to the practice setting, though he’s not going to play in Friday’s preseason game against Minnesota.

With a lack of proven performers to line up on the boundary some wonder if the depth at cornerback is sufficient. Marrone does not.

“I would like to have Leodis back and playing, but we want to be smart about it and bring him back when he’s fully healed and ready to go,” said Marrone. “Knowing that he’s going to be back I think provides a sense of, I don’t know if comfort is the right word, but you feel he’s coming back.

“We feel good about how the other players are developing behind him. We have a lot of options there and options at our safety position that can do that. So as far as going out and looking for someone else for that position who may not be in camp right now, I don’t see that. We have enough players here to make us sleep at night.”

Marrone is referring to both Aaron Williams and Duke Williams as safeties that have the ability to line up at cornerback. Crezdon Butler is also coming off a nice opening preseason performance.


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