After it was announced that Bills assistant coach Bob Bicknell would be coaching receivers beginning in the 2012 season, he shed some light on what the staff believes has to be added to that unit. Bills GM Buddy Nix said another "big time receiver" to pair with Stevie Johnson would be ideal, but there is a specific element to Buffalo's passing game that has been in short supply. Deep speed.
"I just know at receiver you want to have some speed," said Bicknell. "We probably need a speed guy. A guy that just can flat out run. You want to have some guys that have some ability to go up and get balls. We have guys that can win jump balls, but we want some guys that can run I'll tell you that much."
Enter free agent signee David Clowney. The five-year vet spent his first three NFL seasons with the Jets, after being a fifth-round pick of the Packers in 2007.
"That's one thing I've been known for since day one coming out of college is being a speed guy," said Clowney. "The one thing that I have improved on in my five years though is being a route runner and better using my speed to my advantage."
Clowney, who just last month had himself clocked at 4.38 in the 40, is just as fast on the watch as Roscoe Parrish, but at 6'0" 190 pounds carries a bit more to him physically and has a lot more time on the job lining up outside the numbers.
"I lined up mostly outside," said Clowney of his three seasons with the Jets. "We had formations where it forced me as the flanker in the 'Z' position or even at the 'X' as the split end to move to the slot at times. There were some packages also where I'd move to the slot, but my primary position was always outside."
Clowney's career never really took off in New York however, because he was behind the likes of Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery on the depth chart.
"I never got as many catches as I would've liked, but I was a big part of the offense," said Clowney. "A lot of the catches that Braylon and Jerricho had were because I was clearing stuff out. They were coming right behind me and making plays.
"There were a couple of times especially in the playoffs where Jerricho would come right to me and tell me, 'Great job clearing that out for me.' So it's an advantage and a disadvantage being the speed guy, but I'm going to do everything I can to bring my speed to this offense and hopefully it'll do wonders."
The Virginia Tech product was knocked coming out of school for his inconsistency in getting off of press coverage. But after five years in the league, Clowney welcomes tight coverage.
"I love it when guys press me," he said. "I love it. With a D-B with me it's a hit or miss, and if they miss it's pretty much over. Looking at film there aren't many times where you can say I've been hit, going all the way back to my rookie year."
Clowney will be in Buffalo permanently come March 1st. He has already begun pouring over the Bills playbook as he tries to familiarize himself with Chan Gailey's offense, knowing most everyone else has the scheme down pat. He has longed for a genuine opportunity to land a regular role in an NFL offense, and knows this might be his best shot.
"I look at myself as someone that never really got to really take off the way I would've liked throughout the season from Week 1 to Week 17," said Clowney. "I'd get a sprinkle of playing time here and then another sprinkle there. I'd get a touchdown in Week 3 and then Week 9 a couple of catches. I want to be an every down receiver making regular plays week in and week out. With the coaching staff here and my ability I feel like I can make that happen."