Here's the Bills news of note for June 8th.
**1 - Brown: You don't have to be fast to cover
**Bills LB Preston Brown has heard a lot of commentary that in the team's new defensive scheme the linebackers need to be fast and very good in coverage. While speed never hurts, Brown disagrees with the assessment that speed is a prerequisite to being a good coverage player.
"Everybody thinks you've got to be fast to cover, but I don't think that's necessary," said Brown. "I mean, a lot of fast guys overrun stuff, so you've got to study. I take a lot of time to study routes and those things to be better at pass coverage. I think we all can do better at pass coverage as a better unit to get more turnovers to help the team."
Brown's point is valid. If you study an opponent well enough that you can anticipate route concepts based on down and distance, a player who might not be fast on the watch can play "faster" because they know what's coming.
Brown, who ran a 4.86 40-time at the NFL combine and a 4.79 at his pro day, will be in direct competition for the starting middle linebacker job with Reggie Ragland, who is still working up to full participation in OTAs. It's believed whoever does not win the starting middle linebacker job stands a good chance of starting at the strong side linebacker position in Buffalo's defense.
2 - Smooth transition so far at long snapperFor the first time in eight years Buffalo's long snapper won't be Garrison Sanborn. Released in the offseason, the Bills turned the page and LSU product Reid Ferguson is the team's designated snapper. For special teams coordinator Danny Crossman it's a positive transition because Ferguson was an undrafted rookie signing of the club last year and spent time on Buffalo's practice squad in 2016.
"He's grown tremendously," said Crossman. "The nice thing about Reid is he came from a program where they asked him to do a lot of what we ask of him. With the spread punt mentality of college football and the immediate coverage aspect of that position you don't see the body type or the history of what we ask long snappers to do in the NFL. He had a good background coming in and did some different things with us last year in training camp and then having him on practice squad, I really like where Reid is at right now.
"The competition last year we had with him and Garrison Sanborn was outstanding for both of them. It kept Garrison on his game and helped Reid get ready for being our guy this season. To be able to spend time and work with him, we feel very confident about Reid's ability going forward."
3 - By way of China, DE Metz tries to carve a nicheBills free agent DE Jake Metz has been in a couple of NFL camps with Detroit and Philadelphia the past couple of years, but most of his time on the field has been in the Arena league. Playing for the Philadelphia Soul the last two years, Metz earned Defensive Player of the Year honors after the Soul won the Arena Bowl.
Owner of the Soul, Ron Jaworski, called Metz a beast with a high motor. Signed by the Eagles for training camp last summer, Metz lasted just a week before final cuts were made. And a very different opportunity presented itself.
A new Arena League was getting started in China and Jaworski was part of the recruiting effort to get some American players to China to play in the six-team start up league. Metz was one of his first calls.
Metz, who played for the Qingdao Clippers, enjoyed the cultural experience as much as the enthusiasm from the Chinese fans.
* *"It was the same rules as Arena Football and it was half Americans and half Chinese players and the fans loved it, a lot more than we thought," said Metz in an appearance on the John Murphy Show. "More fans there than you could imagine. They didn't know what they were cheering for, but they loved it."
Metz's team made it all the way to the China Bowl, but lost the game on the last play. Despite playing largely indoor football the last couple of years, the Shippensburg University product feels his skill set is better suited to the outdoor game at 6-7 and 265 pounds.
The defensive end has been running with the third team defense, but Metz remains determined.
"I know I'm a better player now than I was two years ago," he said. "I take pride in my high motor. I never give up. Between the whistles I go full speed and I'm always running to the ball."
Photos of Buffalo's defensive ends and defensive tackles from their photoshoot day.