The Buffalo Bills secondary is the team’s main strength coming into the 2010 season. The depth at both free safety and strong safety is starting some exciting training camp battles that will be surely interesting to watch.
With Donte Whitner entering a contract year, will he finally live up to the potential expected of a No. 8 overall pick? Will George Wilson find a way to beat out Whitner for the starting strong safety, although naturally a free safety?
This post previews the current players on the roster, and what will be expected for the season.
Safeties are the last line of defense, and are expected to be sure tacklers, as well as cover receivers.
Strong safeties are larger and stronger than free safeties, and handle the strong side of the offense. Strong safeties play closer to the line and are responsible for assisting in stopping the run, as well as covering players coming out of the backfield.
A strong safety’s duties are a hybrid of those belonging to a linebacker and those of the other defensive backs, in that he both covers the pass and stops the run.
No. 43 Bryan Scott
Bryan Scott didn’t have the season he would’ve liked last year, as he was banged up most of the year, and was lined up primarily at weak side linebacker. In the 3-4, he will be playing the strong safety position.
Interestingly, Scott recorded the most tackles in his three year tenure as a Bill (81), while playing in the least games (9).
Scott was resigned to a two year deal this off-season to not only add depth, but also due to his versatility as a sure tackler and a run-stuffing “in-the-box” play maker.
Donte Whitner is a huge question mark coming into this season, which could end up being a contract year for the former No. 8 overall selection out of Ohio State, as his current two-year contract’s final year is voidable.
Whitner is the most physically-gifted safety on the Bills roster, but has seen his tackle numbers decrease in each of his four seasons in the NFL, declining from 104 in his rookie campaign to just 57 last year.
George Wilson has the best chance to earn the starting job for the 2010 season, coming off of a great season, recording 103 tackles, four interceptions, two sacks, and forcing a fumble.
Wilson is better in pass coverage, but has the ability to make the big hits and stack the line, as shown by his sack and tackle numbers from last year.
Jon Corto has been a great story for Bills fans, growing up in Orchard Park and playing for the Bills, but it seems like the longtime special-teamer’s tenure in Buffalo is coming to a close.
With the need for depth at the linebacker position, Corto could be beat out, even for special teams reps, by those linebackers.
No. 36 Dominique Harris
Dominique Harris may make the team as a practice squad player, or he may make the cut for special teams.
Harris has a big, strong frame, and has the skill set and strength to evolve into a run-stuffer at the line of scrimmage.
Donte Whitner will come into the 2010 season as the starting strong safety simply because he exhibits the physical ability to both stop the run and play in coverage.
Just because he will be the starter does not mean he is an every-down player, due to the depth and quality at the position. George Wilson will play on obvious passing situations, lining up alongside fellow safety Jairus Byrd, which should create some excitement.
Bryan Scott will also find his way into the rotation, and could even see reps at the weakside linebacker, considering that the Bills will be using more of a “hybrid” 3-4 scheme.
Jon Corto will be cut, and Dominique Harris will make the practice squad.