When the Bills enter the visitors’ locker room at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore for Sunday’s game against the 4-2 Ravens, it will seem like just another away game, business as usual, for just about every Buffalo player.
This Sunday marks the defensive end’s return to the city where he spent the first five seasons of his career after being drafted by the Ravens in the second round out of Oregon State in 2004.
“It’s going to be different,” Edwards said. “I’m looking forward to seeing some of the guys and some of the coaching staff, but at the end of the day (I’ve) got a job to do and I’ve prepared the best I can to go play my butt off on Sunday.”
Edwards said his knowledge of the Ravens’ schemes gives him a slight advantage Sunday, but added he can’t be everywhere at once on defense.
“There might be something here or there, but it’s been awhile since I played with those guys,” he said. “I am familiar with their personnel and what not, but … I just have to play my technique on whatever defense is called. I can’t be trying to go outside and make plays when it’s not my turn.”
After missing the 2008 season while recovering from neck surgery, Edwards returned to record a career-high 47 tackles last season. Familiar with the Bills’ 3-4 defense, he signed with Buffalo as a free agent on March 17 and already has 32 tackles this season, on pace to shatter his 2009 mark.
Fellow defensive lineman
“He talks, but Dwan’s a hard worker,” Johnson said. “He goes out and does his job and does it well, and works hard while he does it. That’s the best type of leader you can have; a person you can see.”
Edwards, 29, said he was far down the list of defensive leaders in Baltimore – playing alongside Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed, among others – but learned a lot about being a professional from them, which has helped him become a leader in Buffalo.
"Every day – how you practice, how you prepare, how you take care of your body – things like that are what I learned the most from those guys,” Edwards said. “I’m probably one of the older guys here, so I guess it gives me a chance to help guys out (and) answer questions.”
Johnson said, despite being overshadowed by Baltimore’s higher-profile defenders, Edwards’ winning experience has earned him respect in the Bills’ locker room.
"It’s good to play with guys like (he did), but Dwan held his own out there on the defense, too,” Johnson said. “He’s a veteran (who) knows what it takes to win, so it’s delightful to have him.”
Coach Chan Gailey said Edwards has been a key addition to a struggling defense.
“He’s a very good player to start with and he’s an excellent leader,” Gailey said. “(He’s) a true tough guy (who) gives us some strength on the defensive line and some speed on the defensive line that we needed.”
Edwards said he hopes to help the winless Bills develop a physical attitude similar to the one that has been the Ravens’ strong point for the last decade, highlighted by a defense-dominated playoff run in 2000 that culminated in a world championship.
“They went out and won a Super Bowl on defense, and that’s just something that’s kind of been established for so long for Baltimore,” Edwards said. “I think here, that’s something that’s got to be established. There’s going to be a team that eventually gets something started here, and that’s going to build something for the future.”
Edwards said he had a great experience in Baltimore and still keeps in touch with some of his former teammates, but would love the Bills’ debut in the win column to come at their expense.
“I’d be lying if I said anything different,” he said. “We need to win anyway, regardless of if we’re playing the Ravens. Just to get a win, especially against them, would be great for our team.”