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How CB battle shapes up

Here's how the Buffalo Bills' cornerback lineup shapes up in the wake of the release of veteran Drayton Florence (see previous blog item):

First-round draft pick Stephon Gilmore and eight-year veteran Terrence McGee are the favorites to start. Second-year man Aaron Williams will push McGee for a starting job. In the nickel defense, Gilmore and Williams are the favorites to be the outside coverage men, with McGee bumping inside on the slot.

However, there's plenty of competition, and the Bills could create more playing opportunity for cornerbacks by using a dime (six defensive back) scheme, something they used almost never the past couple seasons. Second-year man Justin Rogers saw extended action the last six games of last season and probably would open training camp as the second slot man in a dime defense. Fourth-round draft pick Ron Brooks covered outside receivers and worked in the slot for Louisiana State. The Bills tend to throw rookies into action on the outside before working them on the slot, but we'll see how fast Brooks picks things up. Leodis McKelvin, entering the last year of his contract, has been used almost exclusively outside. He will aim to have a good training camp and preseason to try to force his way into action. McKelvin also led the Bills on punt returns, averaging 19.5 yards on eight returns. That included an 80-yard TD return against Denver.

Many teams keep six cornerbacks on the 53-man roster. That would be a top six for the Bills. The Bills have two other young corners. Prince Miller is a second-year man from Georgia. In 2010, he spent a month on the Ravens' roster and a month on the Lions' roster. He was on the Bills' practice squad last season. Cris Hill is an undrafted rookie from Virginia Tech.

---Mark Gaughan

 

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