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Bills secondary aims to be tight, aggressive

By Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills' secondary intends to take an in-your-face approach with the Kansas City Chiefs.

With a few days to digest what transpired at the Meadowlands and absorb the game plan for Sunday's home opener, the gist coming from Buffalo's defensive backs is they're going to get tighter and more aggressive.

GilmoreHill"It was a big wakeup call," Bills safety Jairus Byrd said of Sunday's 48-28 loss to the New York Jets. "To start the season off like that is not a good way. That leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

"Everyone says, 'Forget about it.' That's easy to say. But at the same time you don't want to just let it go because then it's like it doesn't matter to you. You have to remember exactly how it felt so you don't repeat it again."

Jets receivers ran as free in the Bills secondary as gazelles in the Serengeti.

Mark Sanchez finished with a 123.4 passer rating, the second-best of his career, while throwing to last year's leading target, Dustin Keller, just once.

"Guys have to be tighter in coverage," Bills safety George Wilson said. "That's all it boils down to. You have to beat the man across from you. They didn't do anything special. They didn't do anything we didn't work on."

But there has been more to the mandate than tighter coverage.

"We have to get more aggressive," Byrd said.

"We need to get more physical with this Kansas City team," cornerback Leodis McKelvin said.

"That is what all the coaches want all of us to play like, aggressive and be tighter on the receiver more," cornerback Stephon Gilmore said, "and just try to aggravate the receiver more."

The Chiefs have a diverse group of weapons in their passing game. Matt Cassel has a bona-fide depth threat in Dwayne Bowe, a tricky scatback in Dexter McCluster and reliable tight ends in Kevin Boss and Toni Moeaki. Their other receivers include Steve Breaston and Jon Baldwin.

The Bills, meanwhile, have Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones, Ruvell Martin and then two receivers -- T.J. Graham and Brad Smith -- who didn't play last week because Chan Gailey didn't want them to.

But that's another story.

"They like to get the ball vertical down the field," Byrd said of the Chiefs. "Third downs, they like to go to No. 22 [McCluster] in the slot. He's a big target for Cassel on third down. The tight end is pretty good, and then they got Bowe on the outside.

"They're capable of spreading the ball around."

The Bills notched just one pass defensed Sunday, a wacky Sanchez interception Bills linebacker Bryan Scott snagged at the end of a scramble.

Buffalo's defensive backs must do better against Kansas City.

"We feel confident we can fix it," McKelvin said. "We just need to play with a little more urgency."

(Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

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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 |