Anderson seen as more than sack specialist

Bills newest free agent signee Mark Anderson has been described by some NFL talent evaluators as a pass rush specialist. New England utilized him in a rotational role last season until the loss of starter Andre Carter in Week 15. Anderson produced with a 10 sack season. As far as the Bills are concerned however, their newest defensive end can be a lot more than that.

"From the start we had him high on our list as far as free agents and if he did hit the market," said Bills GM Buddy Nix. "He's got athletic ability and quickness off the edge. He's got that burst. He's also got enough ability and good enough feet to play the run. He's not as big as a lot of them weighing 255, but he plays with good leverage, good feet, doesn't get reached and can set the edge. All those things we looked at and our coaches looked at and we all feel good about it."

Anderson is all too aware that he's been labeled by most in the league as a rotational pass rusher. That's how he came into the league serving as a wave player behind an ultra-talented Chicago defensive line that helped the Bears reach the Super Bowl in 2006. He had 12 sacks as a rookie and then his production fell off with just 13.5 sacks over the next four seasons. Anderson felt he had some hard lessons to learn.

"I had to grow up as a player," he said. "My role changed as the years progressed and I had to learn the game more. Coming in as a rookie I was just out there going off of pure talent. But as the years went along I matured and had great coaches to break down different responsibilities to me and different situations that I'll be put in as a defensive end. As the years went along I matured and I was able to adapt and understand what works and what doesn't work in this league. And what's best for me as a pass rusher."

As a result Anderson not only became a more consistent pass rusher, he also became a more well-rounded player. One that the Bills had trouble blocking in last year's season finale when he had seven tackles and a sack.

"I think sometimes guys get labeled as certain kinds of guys," said Bills head coach Chan Gailey. "You're trying to take labels off of guys. He's not just a pass rusher. He's a guy that can play all three downs. So that was another thing that I think really interested us. He wasn't a specialty player. He's got the capabilities of being an every down player, which is something we would like."

Anderson realizes he's joining a defensive line contingent that already has a lot of proven talent on hand. At the same time Buffalo's commitment to him as a free agent serves as a strong indication that he'll have every opportunity to be starting opposite Mario Williams come the regular season.

"My whole motto is to go hard," Anderson told "Whenever you get the opportunity you've got to make plays and make the most of your opportunities. If I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play more I'm going to try to make every play when I'm out on the field. That's one of the things I harp on. I'm going to die trying to fight hard to the finish."

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