The Buffalo Bills were weak in the defensive secondary going into the season. Besides CB Stephon Gilmore and S Jairus Byrd, there were question marks all over the place. Could CB Leodis McKelvin step up and be a legitimate starter in this league? Would S Aaron Williams be able to make the successful conversion moving over from CB? Who was the third CB? The fourth? How would the safety depth be? If all that wasn’t enough Gilmore fractured his hand during the second preseason game and Byrd’s plantar fasciitis flared up after he reported to camp. It looked like a certain disaster for the Bills defensive backfield heading into the season.
The Bills held their own in Week 1 against Tom Brady. Gilmore’s replacement Justin Rogers picked Brady off and Byrd’s replacement Da’Norris Searcy recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown in a play that may have turned around the entire game. Unfortunately for the Bills the slot corner Ron Brooks suffered an injury and left the Bills even thinner in the defensive backfield. Panthers QB Cam Newton talked during the week about exploiting Buffalo’s weakened secondary but the Bills held their own and limited to only 229 yards passing.
The Bills defensive backfield has stepped up big when they needed them to. McKelvin in particular has played at another level in the first two weeks. He is second in the league behind Denver’s Tony Carter with seven passes broken up already. Rookie Nickell Robey has also been a pleasant surprise in the CB rotation. When Gilmore and Byrd get back it will make the Bills defensive backfield even better. If McKelvin keeps playing at the level that he has then the Bills will have one of the premiere cornerback duos in the league. With the pass rush forcing so many errant passes, ball hawk Byrd can have a field day in this defense. People were worried about how bad the Bills defense would be without Gilmore and Byrd. Now they are excited at the prospect of how good this defense will get when they return.