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Bills backup DEs better than 12 years of starters?

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills defensive-line depth has been a much-discussed topic since they landed Mario Williams shortly after the free-agency period began.

Actually seeing them line up on the field helps illustrate how much better they truly are.

At this afternoon's voluntary workout in Orchard Park, the Bills' second-team edge rushers were Shawne Merriman and Mark Anderson.

"That just says people got something to worry about," sophomore defensive tackle Marcell Dareus said. "Those are two hellified players."

I remarked to Buffalo News colleague Mark Gaughan how much better the second-unit edge rushers were than last year's most common tandem, Chris Kelsay and Spencer Johnson as outside linebackers in a 3-4. Or, if you want to talk strictly defensive ends, the most common starters were Dwan Edwards and Alex Carrington.

Gaughan, who has covered the team since 1988, mulled for a bit and said he would have to go back to Bruce Smith and Phil Hansen in the last 1990s to find a starting Bills edge tandem he would take over the second-teamers at today's practice.

Let's think about that for a moment.

Granted, Merriman is injury prone and can't be relied upon to be a full-time player anymore. But he does have a track record as a disruptive force when he can play. Anderson, meanwhile, is coming off a 10-sack season for the New England Patriots.

What starting pair between the Bruce Smith era and 2012 could we consider?

Hansen and Marcellus Wiley, who had one big season when Hansen was 32 years old and recorded two sacks?

Aaron Schobel along with Ryan Denney or Kelsay?

You tell us.

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |