Field Goals: Linebackers shaping up

Now that Bills training camp is truly up and running – it is closer to the end than the beginning, actually – it seems like a safe time to look into a few more position battles.

One of the most intriguing positions on the roster is linebacker. While the Bills re-vamped defensive line has fans and media drooling over the potential they may hold this season, the linebacking corps leave something to be desired.

Entering camp, the Bills base defense would start Kelvin Sheppard at mike with Nick Barnett on the weakside and Kirk Morrison on the strong side. However, as Joe Buscaglia reported today, it seems as if Arthur Moats has the inside track on the starting strong side position.

Moats, who also received some complimentary press last week, appears to have finally settled into a position that suits his skillset as a somewhat undersized pass rusher. After originally being slated as an inside backer in the 3-4 after his draft year, Moats floated to the outside and gained instant fandom for his hit on Brett Favre. However, he still struggled to see playing time since his 6’0” frame is not ideal for and outside linebacker position in a 3-4.

For than matter, his size isn’t ideal as a defensive end in a 4-3 either. Although he does have the pass rushing skillset that is desired from a rush linebacker in an even set.

However, Moats’ promotion shouldn’t be welcomed with sunshine and lollypops. It is not much different than if a late round pick or undrafted free agent managed to earn regular playing time. Simply put, it isn’t necessarily an ideal situation. Continue reading

Brad Smith listed as a QB, Moats moved to ILB

The Bills opened training camp today and there are already a few interesting tidbits floating around.

Arthur Moats was deadly at OLB last season, apparently the Bills prefer him as an ILB

The first comes from Mark Gaughan’s report in The Buffalo News. Right now, Brad Smith is listed as a quarterback on the roster. This means two things to me. One, they do not want to sacrifice one of their wide receiver positions on Smith when they can “hide” him elsewhere. Basically, Smith can play a variety of positions and you can’t necessarily pigeon-hole him into one. I was concerned after his signing because NFL teams have such ridgid numbers set as they enter camp and the regular season. It is a safe bet that the Bills will not have more than six receivers on their roster entering the year meaning Smith would have likely forced out either Marcus Easely, Donald Jones, David Nelson or Naaman Roosevelt. Now that he is listed as a QB the Bills won’t likely have to part with one of their youngsters.

The second thing this points out to me is the fact that they must really like Easley and Nelson. They are my favorites to secure the final WR spots behind Lee Evans, Stevie Johnson and Roscoe Parrish. I was particularly worried that Nelson would be cut due to the signing of Smith. Now it seems as if he may be safe. That being said, Jones and Roosevelt are likely the odd men out in the grand scheme of things. Smith can run out in kick and punt coverage like these two did last season. They became expendable when the Bills signed Smith. Continue reading