Before the Bills preseason contest with the Pittsburgh Steelers, most fans probably didn't know who DT Landon Cohen was. That likely changed after Cohen – a late signee to the team this preseason – scooped up a fumble and rumbled his way into the spotlight with each of the 59 yards he picked up on the recovery. This new blip on the Bills' radar is just a high water mark on a preseason that may land Cohen the home he's been looking for.
"I'd been preparing all summer for a call," said Cohen in an interview on the John Murphy Show. "I've been a bunch of different places in my time. It's all about figuring out how to work … I think with defensive linemen, if you're a bigger guy and you can run, you always get a shot when someone needs D-linemen to come in so as long as you keep your resume good and stay in shape, you'll be fine."
Despite being a late signee to the team, Cohen has been able to pick up the playbook and make a name for himself among a defensive line that boasts three Pro Bowlers. The talent of his new teammates has had an immediate impact on him.
"I'm telling you, just watching the film sometimes and watching those guys," said Cohen. "They do some unbelievable things … Marcel (Dareus), when I first saw him move I was like, 'jeeze Louise,' you know? And Kyle (Williams) is a big, fast man too. Mario (Williams) is also a big, a 290-pound man that can run like the wind and you got Jerry (Hughes) over there who's smaller but he's just like a fireplug."
On Saturday night his long fumble return off of linemate Stefan Charles' sack and forced fumble was just one in what's become a series of eye-catching plays. Not an easy task for an interior defensive lineman.
"I just thought get it and fall down on it," he said. "That's a D-lineman's dream to have the ball in your hands. Just pick it up and run and get as much as I can before one of those receivers catch me. I didn't think I was going to get in the end zone."
Cohen also had a tackle for loss against Pittsburgh to match with his other two tackles for loss in the Hall of Fame game. His steady play has allowed him to move up the depth chart and put himself in good position to land a roster spot with two preseason games to play. But the fifth-year pro doesn't attribute his play to anything special.
"It's focus, it's studying the quarterback and the center exchange, over and over again," said Cohen. "Like I said, it's professional football."
Before he received his latest call to come and make an attempt at making the roster, the 6-foot-1, 300-pound Ohio University product was just another entrepreneur in his South Carolina hometown.
"I have a valet parking company we actually started in high school," said Cohen. "Just kids and parents were like, 'oh, we're having a Christmas party, you guys want to valet?' and me and two of my buddies came up with the idea to do it and go legit and get insurance and start grabbing contracts with restaurants back home and contracts with the city. It's a really good business. I do private events, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, all kind of things."
Successful business aside, Cohen kept the possibility of another NFL call in the back of his mind and made sure to stay active and be in shape in the event the call came. Cohen's training regimen might be a bit more varied than others as it includes Brazilian jujitsu and bikram yoga.
"I've been doing, specifically, bikram yoga for about five years now," said Cohen. "It's 110 degrees in the room and I really use that for the focus part of it. You focus in so much that you don't even really feel the heat. Nothing else matters. It's just you and your mat."
Cohen claims the yoga helps him zero in and allows him to focus better on the football field. For jujitsu, he says it helps more with the mental aspects of the game and how to set up an opponent but, in the end, "… it's nothing like 350-pound men in a goal line series landing on your back."
Once he received his call, Cohen wasted no time. Coming into camp, he already knew defensive line coach Pepper Johnson from his time with the New England Patriots so he settled in and got back to work, quickly earning the approval of his other coaches.
"He's been around a lot," said head coach Doug Marrone. "We're looking for that right situation for him to make the team and make plays. He's made some plays for us. He just needs to continue to show that he can make more plays and he'll have an opportunity to make this team. He's quick off the ball, he gives great effort and he's done a very good job."
Looking at Cohen, his vagabond history with the NFL could be attributed to his svelte build compared to other interior linemen around the league. With DT Marcell Dareus weighing in at 6-3, 331 pounds, DT Alan Branch coming in at 6-6, 325 pounds or even fellow up-and-comer DT Stefan Charles at 6-5, and 323 pounds, Cohen finds a tall order ahead of him having a smaller body frame.
"I guess you can say the same about Kyle [Williams] with the stature of those guys, but don't fall asleep on them," said Marrone when asked about Cohen's size. "You can't fall asleep on those guys. I say it all the time, that's the reason those guys put an NFL uniform on. Those guys are just relentless and they go about their business like a professional."
Even though Cohen has earned the praise of his coaches and has stepped up to make some plays, he's not getting ahead of himself. He knows he still has work to do if he hopes to make the regular season roster.
"I'm one of those guys, I never get too high, I never get too low," said Cohen. "I only think I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to do as a defensive tackle in the NFL. You're supposed to make tackles. You're supposed to be accountable to your teammates so it's not like it's anything extraordinary."
But it may be enough to land a spot on yet another NFL roster.