On a roster that contains 10 wide receivers, it might be difficult for a rookie fourth-round pick to make an impression. Getting enough snaps in a large pool of position players can be difficult. For Marcus Easley it hasn't been an issue, partly because four of those other receivers have never taken a snap in an NFL game either and partly because he's made the most of the reps he's received.
Through the first three weeks of spring practices, Easley has received his fair share of snaps during team work on offense. He's even lined up opposite top receiver Lee Evans at times in practice with the first unit.
"Lee Evans is a guy that has proved himself over the years so I definitely want to take advantage of each rep that I get a chance to get," Easley told Buffalobills.com.
It seems clear that the offensive staff wants to see just how soon they can get production out of Easley by pitting him against some of the team's better cornerbacks. Though wide receivers coach Stan Hixon wants his wideouts to learn all the receiver positions in Buffalo's offense, Easley has worked almost exclusively outside to this point.
"It's still a work in progress. I'm trying to master one thing at a time," he said. "Just trying to get to know the offense in and out, but at the same time they've got me on the boundary right now so I'm just trying to focus on that until you know that task is complete."
Thus far Easley has fared well in the practice setting as he has been one of the more frequent big play receivers during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11.
"The fastest distance from point 'A' to point 'B' is a straight line so I prefer the deep ball, especially the go route," said Easley. "It gives me the chance to showcase my speed and when my number gets called I just try to rise to the occasion."
"Marcus has a great burst," said head coach Chan Gailey. "He looks like he's not running fast, but he is. He's got very good hands. He's got strong hands. That's been two impressive things about him thus far."
Easley is trying to keep things in perspective. He knows he was drafted to provide the receiving corps with another viable threat following the team's offseason parting of ways with Terrell Owens and Josh Reed. At the same time he realizes he's not the only one looking to fill that void on Buffalo's roster.
"They drafted me and there was a need at the wide receiver position, but there are nine other guys out here working, not only to improve this position, but to have a bigger contribution to this offense," he said. "I take it upon myself to make myself better to hopefully try to have some type of impact on this offense, but at the same time we are a group. There is no 'I' in team and we're all doing what we can to make this group a better unit."
And though Easley has turned in some nice plays in the spring practices that has led to optimism as to what he can bring to the offense, he understands it's not even close to real football until the pads go on. That along with the challenging transition he'll be making from college to the pro level is more than enough to keep him grounded.
"They always say progress can be a slow process," Easley said. "I come out here and I'm still learning and I'm still a rookie when it's all said and done. I make good plays, I make bad plays. I just try to minimize the bad plays and learn from my mistakes and just take it one day at a time."