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Bills Sign Veteran DE Wallace

It didn't take long for Buffalo to address a glaring lack of experience at defensive end behind starters Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay.

With Ryan Denney out indefinitely with a broken foot and Anthony Hargrove suspended for the season's first four games, the Bills signed eight-year veteran free agent Al Wallace to a contract Tuesday following a Monday morning workout.

"He's a big man and has good agility and his movement skills looked good out there in the workout," said defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. "At this point in time he's the best available defensive end replacement."

Wallace, a former undrafted free agent (1997), had spent the past five seasons with the Carolina Panthers as the team's third defensive end behind starters Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker. However, the Panthers made him a salary cap casualty releasing him last February.

Still he was confident an opportunity would surface.

"I had faith that something would come up for me," said Wallace. "I feel like I'm a good player and there's always a need. Unfortunately with this game and training camp injuries come and they always need to plug people in."

Buffalo was in need of a veteran defensive end as the reserve ends behind Kelsay and Schobel have no NFL game experience. Wallace has appeared in 112 games in his career with 10 starts.

"That's definitely a plus in his favor," said Fewell of Wallace's time in the league.

In a heavy rotational system Buffalo was looking for a veteran end they could count on that was capable of providing consistent play when stepping in for the likes of Kelsay and Schobel.

"I'm willing to take on whatever role is asked of me and I backed up two pretty good defensive ends in Carolina and there are a couple of great guys here," said Wallace. "If I can step in and help the team and do the best I can and kind of bring some experience here I'll do it."

"We played that there in Carolina for the past five seasons that I've been there so hopefully the system is similar and I'll be able to just plug right in and pick up on everything and try to be productive," said Wallace.

Wallace has pass rush skills and should be able to help in obvious passing situations as he had three sacks and 13 quarterback hurries for the Panthers last season in a reserve role. Wallace has also proven durable as he has not missed a game in five seasons.

"In Carolina I was kind of a jack of all trades so my ability to play the pass and the run is pretty solid and to just be a veteran leader for a young team," said Wallace.

"He's a pass rush guy and that helps us a lot too," said Fewell. "We've got to work with him in the run game, but that experience does help us when it comes to our defensive end play."

The 33-year old Wallace has also crossed paths a couple of times during his career with head coach Dick Jauron. First, as a rookie free agent signee of the Jacksonville Jaguars when Jauron was the club's defensive coordinator, and then as a free agent signee of the Chicago Bears late in the 2000 season when Jauron was serving as the team's head coach.

"I started off my career with him as a defensive coordinator there in Jacksonville and again in Chicago," said Wallace. "He's straightforward and a hard-nosed coach that wants to win football games and I'm glad to be here and willing to help in any way I can."

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