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Around the AFC East: Buffalo Bills

We are back and up is Brian G from Buffalo Rumblings:

Phinsider: Following the departure of Nate Clements, what does Buffalo's cornerback situation look like? Is there a true #1 corner? Is 2006 3rd round pick Ashton Youboty going to make an impact?

Buffalo Rumblings: At this point, there is not a true #1 corner. Terrence McGee fills that role, but he has always been an ideal fit for a nickel role in my eyes. He is certainly capable of starting in this type of defense thanks to his tackling ability, but he's probably not a true #1 corner. He will start at the left cornerback spot. At right corner, there is a three-way battle between veterans Kiwaukee Thomas and Jason Webster and the young Youboty. My expectation is that either Thomas or Webster will win that job, with the loser playing on nickel downs. Youboty is too green at this point to be a true contender for the job, although I do expect him to have taken at least the nickel job by the end of the season. For now, he's developing and will see action on special teams; he is, however, a piece of the puzzle going forward.

The loss of Clements does hurt us, but only in the immediate future. This coaching staff is banking on the fact that the defense we run (Tampa-2) relies less on coverage ability (thanks to the predominantly zone looks) and more on tackling ability; all of our corners can tackle. The problem there, however, is that Buffalo does not have the explosive pass rush necessary to keep the pressure off our young secondary. I expect this to be an issue during the early stages of the season, but in time I think the presence of Youboty will shore things up a bit.

My take: Like Brian G said, Buffalo's defense doesn't necessarily need top corners to be successful (see other Tampa 2 defenses). However, the lack of a pass rush is going to absolutely kill them, in my opinion. Even if you give a guy like Joey Harrington all day to throw the ball against these corners, they will be picked apart. I agree that Buffalo, long-term, will address this issue and in a few years could very well have a top defense. However, I think 2007 is going to be a long year for that defensive unit.

Be sure to head on over to Buffalo Rumblings to see my response to Brian G's question.

Be back later with the final segment of "Around the AFC East" for this week.