The Buffalo Bills came into the season with one of the best young cornerbacks in the league in Stephon Gilmore, but his injury during the preseason put the Bills in a tough position. To make matters worse, the depth at the position looked brutal, and the Bills dropped nearly all of the CBs on the roster bubble after a disastrous performance in the last preseason game vs. the Detroit Lions.
Despite all that, the Bills’ cornerbacks looked good in the season opener against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. But during the course of the game, they lost Ron Brooks, Gilmore’s replacement, to a broken bone in his foot. The injury has left the Bills’ seriously depleted at the CB position.
Leodis McKelvin looked great in the opener, and he’ll have to keep up his high level of play. Justin Rogers held his own on Sunday and will start opposite McKelvin until Gilmore’s return.
The most pleasant surprise on the day, however, was Nickell Robey. Robey got into more action than Brooks in the game (likely due to the injury) and played well in his first game with the Bills. He’ll be relied on to be the nickel corner in the defense for the foreseeable future.
The last two guys on the depth chart are Brandon Burton and Johnny Adams, both waiver wire pickups who have been in the system for less than two weeks. The Bills would like to avoid them playing any meaningful snaps. You’re more likely to see a safety like Da’Norris Searcy or Duke Williams on a receiver than one of those guys — at least for a week or two.
The road doesn’t get much easier for this unit. They get Cam Newton this week and then see Joe Flacco in a few more. They’ll hope to hold the line until Gilmore gets back and rely on pressure up front on the QB to take the heat off of the inexperienced corners. The key is McKelvin. If he can stay with the other team’s no. 1 guy, then the coaching staff can try to mix and match among the rest.