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Bills trolling for a safety

Posted Jul 24, 2012

As players were reporting to training camp at St. John Fisher Tuesday, general manager Buddy Nix was already discussing possible tinkering with the team’s roster. Though he feels a lot better about the depth of the squad in a lot of areas, there is still one particular position where the veteran personnel man believes they made need to make an addition.

“The one place I’m a little concerned is our depth at safety,” said Nix. “We’ve got three guys and we’d like to have four there that can play. Other than that I think we’re pretty deep.”

Nix is referring to incumbent starters George Wilson and Jairus Byrd along with 2010 fourth-round pick Da’Norris Searcy. All three are virtual locks to make the roster. After that there is a trio of young, unproven talent in undrafted rookies Nick Saenz and Nick Sukay as well as first-year player Josh Nesbitt. None of them have set foot on an NFL field at safety on a Sunday.

In a year in which the Bills are gunning for the postseason, and have seen what a rash of injuries can do to their fortunes last season, Nix is looking to add a dependable fourth safety.

Veteran Bryan Scott could conceivably be an emergency option, but it's clear Nix and his staff would prefer to keep Scott in his subpackage linebacker role.

"Here’s what we don’t want to do," said Nix. "I’d rather not have to move somebody back there if we got somebody hurt. I think that is unfair to them. Sometimes you have to do it. We may have to do it. It really is unfair to them and unfair to our team. If we can be alert here on waivers and whatever is available then we might bring in a safety."

Nix and his pro personnel staff, led by Tom Gibbons, has been opportunistic the past two seasons picking players up on waivers like TE Scott Chandler, LB Shawne Merriman and OL Kraig Urbik. Chandler and Urbik were full-time starters last season and Merriman looks as though he’ll be healthy for the upcoming season.

Buffalo is currently at the offseason roster limit of 90 and would have to move a player off the roster should they have a successful waiver claim.

Though the Bills seem content to monitor the waiver wire for a suitable addition, there are still veteran free agent safeties available. Among the safeties still out there that could be appealing is Husain Abdullah, a starter the past two seasons in Minnesota. Other veteran safeties that could be willing to accept a backup role include Deon Grant, who played for the New York Giants the last two seasons. Former Lions safety Chris Harris and former Jets safety Jim Leonhard are other options, though Leonhard is coming off a major knee injury.

Leonhard suffered a torn patellar tendon last season on Dec. 11, the same injury Terrence McGee is trying to come back from. Rehab is typically four to six months.