Bills fans who paid close attention to OTA Practice Notes the past few weeks have likely noticed one new name routinely appearing in defensive reports: defensive end Jamie Blatnick. Undrafted in 2012, Blatnick signed a deal with the Denver Broncos where he spent a portion of the season on the practice squad. On April 18, Blatnick signed with Buffalo and he has impressed early.
In 51 games as a defensive end at Oklahoma State, Blatnick accrued 118 tackles, 24 stops for a loss, and 16 sacks. Despite a high motor and the ability to create trouble from the edge, Blatnick was labeled a "tweener" by many scouts. Too small to be a NFL defensive end and too big to play linebacker, Blatnick fell out of the draft and struggled to fit in on the defensive line in Denver. Now standing at 6'3" 253 lb., the 23 year-old showed his dedication to success by slimming down when he learned the Bills had plans to use him in an edge pass rusher role.
"Last year in Denver I was about 20 pounds heavier, and then [the Bills] told me I'd be playing [edge pass rusher] out here so I dropped 20 pounds to get ready for it," said Blatnick. "As far as that, that's a big change, but other than that I'm just playing football."
The weight-loss seems to have improved his speed and agility, as Blatnick has made a habit of blowing plays up in the backfield, adding to a growing list of OTA highlights that also includes solid run and screen pass reads and stops.
By his own assessment, Blatnick is a technique player who finds success in having a better understanding of what is taking place around him on a play.
"I'm a hard worker," said Blatnick. "I'm more of a technique guy. I like to know the plays, know what people are doing around me, and just really execute technique."
Blatnick has certainly executed thus far and the Bills coaching staff has taken notice. Blatnick has been rotated in at times with linebacker Jerry Hughes for first team reps as an edge pass rusher. With the increased reps, Blatnick sees not just an opportunity to make an NFL roster, but a chance to earn some time on the field.
"I definitely see an opportunity," said Blatnick. "Really it wouldn't matter where I was at, I mean if you don't see opportunity what are you out here doing? I'm just trying to do the best I can and make myself the best player I can be and make players around me better."
Blatnick is happy that this opportunity is coming in Buffalo, and he has thoroughly enjoyed his new environment.
"It's a great place," said Blatnick. "I love it. I've been out and around and met a lot of fans, and everyone's really diehard. It's really awesome. I'm enjoying it and I'm enjoying being here."
Of course the on-field environment matters most to a player, and Blatnick is fired up by defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's system.
"I love it," explained Blatnick. "[It's] nothing like I've been in. It's just so fast-paced and so complex yet somewhat simple. It's one of those things where everyone has a little bit more leeway. Not everyone has to fit a gap, everyone has an opportunity to make plays."
Blatnick has drawn the eyes of coaches and media members, and Bill fans should be next to look for the playmaking ability he has showcased thus far come training camp. At least that is what Blatnick suggests.
"Look out for me," Blatnick said when asked if he had a message for fans. "I'm going to be out there making plays and trying my hardest."