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Gailey comfortable with platooning players

Posted Sep 17, 2012


The art of platooning a couple of players at one position is a common practice in Major League Baseball. In the NFL continuity is often king, effectively making players either a starter or a backup. That’s not the case this season for the Bills. Head coach Chan Gailey has four platoon situations on his team heading into Week 3 with no sign of them changing soon.

Buffalo has had a two-player rotation at left cornerback, right tackle, strong safety and nickel corner this season. It appears that Justin Rogers has re-assumed his nickel role from last season after a promising performance against the Chiefs Sunday. But Gailey hasn’t stamped Rogers name on that job permanently.

“We felt like with the matchup that we had in this ball game we were going to give Justin (Rogers) a chance to go out there and play, and he was playing so well we just left it the way it was,” said Gailey. “He’ll stay there right now and they’ll both keep practicing there and we’ll see how it goes in the future.”

For McKelvin, who was leapfrogged on the depth chart last year by Aaron Williams, it’s not something he takes to heart.

“It doesn’t matter if they got me on defense or offense or special teams,” he said. “I’m going to go out there and give it my best.  I just keep a level head and everything is going to work out for the best.” 

At strong safety second-year man Da’Norris Searcy has rotated in with starter and defensive co-captain George Wilson.   

“We’re just trying to let both of them play,” Gailey told Buffalobills.com. “Da’Norris has earned the right to play some with his play. So we’re trying to keep them both fresh and let them play.”

Terrence McGee is also rotating in with Aaron Williams at left cornerback and Chris Hairston is rotating in with Erik Pears at right tackle. McGee and Pears are returning from offseason surgeries that kept them off the field for much of the preseason. Neither is capable of going a whole game yet, but Gailey has been encouraged by the play of the younger players at those positions as well.

“We’re doing what we think we have to do because of some conditioning situations because of how many snaps are played on special teams. There are a lot of considerations.” Gailey said. “It’s not just who is first team, second team and making sure the second teamer gets plays. All the guys that we are playing are guys that have deserved the opportunity to get in the ball game and can play at a level very close to the guy that’s starting.”

Gailey admits there is an inherent value in football to have continuity at certain positions, but playing time for players that deserve it is also high on his priority list.

“At some positions that balance is easier to find than others,” he said. “We’re fortunate that Chris Hairston can go in and play because he played there all preseason. He was the right tackle the whole time. That part of it has been fairly easy for us and that’s the most critical area probably (for continuity).”

“It’s just something that they wanted me to do last year and again this year,” said Hairston. “I’ve got to bring something to this team and whatever coach asks of me that’s what I’ve got to get done.”

Having been bit hard by the injury bug the past couple of seasons, Gailey likely sees a benefit to the platoon situations knowing if there is an injury at one of those spots the player left would be more than ready to assume full-time duty.

It’s why Gailey doesn’t feel prompted to make a definitive decision any time soon in handing all the snaps in upcoming games to just one of these platoon players. He knows in some cases the decision will likely be made for him.

“They can continue on their current course,” said Gailey. “To be honest with you before the season is over some injuries and some nicks will take care of how much we do and how much we don’t do.”