There's a saying in the NFL by personnel executives and coaches. You can never have too many cornerbacks. In an era where passing is becoming more and more prevalent there's a premium on capable cornerbacks. The Bills, after experiencing a painful shortage at the position last year due to injury, fortified the position in the offseason and now find themselves with a surplus on the boundary.
This season, there are three starting caliber cornerbacks for the two starting positions outside. Compare that to last year's patchwork secondary – after CB Stephon Gilmore suffered a broken wrist in the preseason and CB Leodis McKelvin a hamstring injury Week 3 against the Jets – and it's a good dilemma to have.
Head coach Doug Marrone announced earlier this week that he plans to split the defensive snaps as equally as possible between Gilmore, McKelvin and CB Corey Graham until he feels that there is a dominant pair among them.
"We've been rotating them from day one since they've been back," Marrone said. "I keep saying the same thing. Everyone is trying to pin, 'Who are the (starting) two? Who are the two?' But we've got a pretty good deal going if we have three guys. I firmly believe, with the level they're playing, that those three players will produce more than if it's just two. We only have an opportunity one or two of those guy wearing out, whereas now we have all three and it's a long season. We're in good shape until someone separates."
Having too many corners isn't a mistake either. To avoid last season's debacle, the team snagged Graham in free-agency and drafted CB Ross Cockrell – and it is paying off.
Through two weeks, Graham has played lights out, including the interception at Chicago and the pass breakup on a deep post intended for WR Mike Wallace against Miami.
Graham's contributions aren't the only benefits of the rotation. It also allows Gilmore and McKelvin, both of whom underwent hip surgery in the offseason, to work their way back to a full workload.
"I feel like we have a lot of time to rest. Especially with me and Stephon [Gilmore] coming off our off-season surgeries and the difficulties we have trying to get our bodies right," McKelvin said. "Going in and playing is going to put a toll on us and we get fatigued cause we haven't built up our legs. The rotation should be very good."
McKelvin also mentioned that being on the sideline lets you to watch your opponent and prevent mental errors when you get into the game, allowing him, Gilmore and Graham to go full throttle.
Gilmore believes that coming in and out increases your mental focus. When he's rotated out of the lineup he pays closer attention from the sideline so he's prepared when he re-enters the game.
"When you come out (of the game), you've really got to focus and get ready for that next series," Gilmore said. "Even if you're in there, you've got to focus. For me, I have no problem with it. It's whatever coach wants."
Even Buffalo's opponents are recognizing the strength of the defense. San Diego QB Philip Rivers admitted that he thinks the Bills have a 'formidable' defense and that he is unfamiliar with who is in the secondary.
"Oh they're playing well. It's a super active group," he said. "They play with a lot of energy. There's a lot of speed back there. They're playing well together. They find themselves around the ball and make you earn everything you get."