By Jay Skurski
Defending the slot receiver position has been a riddle the Buffalo Bills have not been able to solve in recent seasons against the New England Patriots.
When Wes Welker signed with Denver in the offseason, it looked like the job might get easier for the Bills. Just a few hours later, though, the Patriots brought in a player in Danny Amendola who -- when he's at his best -- is a younger version of Welker. Both players have remarkably similar strengths: namely their route-running ability and short-area elusiveness.
The 27-year-old Amendola has missed 20 games the past two seasons as a member of the St. Louis Rams, but he's healthy now and will be in the slot Sunday when the Patriots visit Ralph Wilson Stadium. That puts second-year cornerback Ron Brooks in the spotlight. (Note: Starting today and continuing each Saturday during the 2013 season, the Press Coverage blog will highlight one player who has an interesting matchup in Sunday's game).
Amendola had 63 catches for 666 yards and three touchdowns with St. Louis last season in 11 games.
Brooks, 24, played in nine games as a rookie -- with two starts -- after missing time at the start of the 2012 season because of a broken foot. At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds he matches up reasonably well size wise with the 5-11, 190-pound Amendola. Brooks, who ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at the 2012 Scouting Combine, should also have the speed to match up with the Patriots' receiver.
The nickel cornerback job is nothing new to Brooks. It's the job he held during most of his time in college for LSU, playing behind first-round draft picks Morris Claiborne and Patrick Peterson.
Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has said the team will spend more time in the nickel than it will in a base 3-4 look, so Brooks is being counted on as a starter, even if he's not officially listed that way.
In getting Amendola on Sunday, Brooks will have a solid first test in his first day on the job.
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