1. DC Leslie Frazier thinks NFL teams might regret passing on this Bills rookie
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference isn’t exactly known for producing droves of football players to the NFL. But, the last three MEAC defensive players of the year have turned into solid NFL players.
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard was an All-Pro as a rookie, Steelers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave has started the past three seasons and linebacker Joe Thomas has played 52 games the past five seasons with the Packers and Cowboys.
The most recent winner of the award was the Bills’ seventh round pick Darryl Johnson, a defensive end, out of North Carolina A&T.
“When we drafted Darryl we were all excited about getting him in the seventh round,” defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “We had our eyes on him and I was so happy when Brandon and his staff decided to take him. To see his growth from rookie minicamp to what he’s now doing in preseason is really encouraging.”
Johnson has flashed during Buffalo’s first two preseason games. He’s made his presence known with a sack and a pass batted down at the line.
“You just like to see the maturation continue,” Frazier said. “He has a lot of natural ability, but he’s still a rookie, there’s so much to learn. He’s still very raw, but you can see some natural instincts and you can see the potential that’s there. If he continues to work hard, you know he’ll have a future in our league.”
Frazier was surprised to see that the Bills were one of the only teams at Johnson’s pro day. Frazier cited the career of Cameron Wake as a pass rusher that wasn’t recruited highly out of college. Johnson might not be Wake but he could be a very successful pass rusher in the league.
“There’s such a premium on pass rushers and usually people dig deep to try and find those type of guys, and for whatever reason Darryl is one of those guys,” Frazier said. “I think we will look back and say he kind of slipped through the cracks.”
2. Corey vs. Cory: Where do things stand in the punting competition?
The Bills have not decided who will be the punter this season between Cory Carter and Corey Bojorquez.
“They’ve each shown a lot of positives and gotten better,” special teams coordinator Heath Farwell said. “I think that’s the most important thing is that they’ve improved every day. There’s certain things we need to work on but I like where we’re at.”
Both were with the Bills last season. Carter was placed on IR before the season started and Bojorquez was injured and couldn’t finish the season. Both have been working hard this offseason on punts and holds but the two games left will matter after not being able to punt much in last Friday’s game.
“We still have two games left and let’s see what it looks like in two weeks,” Farwell said. “Let’s see how they hold up Friday night and then of course the following Thursday. They did a good job the other night. We only had three punts, in a sense I wish we would have done it more but the offense did a good job so we only got those three.”
3. Returner Andre Roberts earns high praise his special teams coordinator
There’s something special about having Andre Roberts back to return punts and kicks. Roberts was named to the Pro Bowl last season after leading the NFL in average yards per punt and kick return. He’s been especially valuable to Farwell in his first season as the head special teams coach.
“He’s fast, he’s a strong runner but I think what he does really well is he’s really smart. I haven’t talked returns all the time because I’m still learning stuff. He is the smartest returner I’ve ever been around. It’s been really impressive how he understands the blocking schemes and how they relate to him. That’s where he’s distanced himself.”
Farwell played nine seasons in the NFL and has spent the past four seasons as a coach. He’s been around some prolific returners but none have impressed him as much as Roberts.