In his first two NFL seasons saw action in all of 10 games, which came mostly on special teams. Entering year three Ellis was undergoing the most radical of changes going from defensive end to outside linebacker in Buffalo's new 3-4 scheme. After an entire offseason of acclimating himself to a host of different responsibilities, Ellis flashed in Buffalo's home opener as he stepped in for an injured Reggie Torbor.
Of course Ellis was just as disappointed as the rest of his teammates that they didn't come out with the victory in Week 1, but in his first outing the newly converted outside linebacker produced with five tackles, a sack and a pair of quarterback hits. Still, Ellis wasn't sounding satisfied.
"As good as it might feel, it's never as good as it seems and it's never as bad as it seems," said Ellis. "Once you break down the film and correct little things like giving away your alignments and stuff like that… there's still plenty of stuff to correct but as far as execution I think everything kind of matched up with what we needed to do."
In the first half Ellis was instrumental in bringing Miami's first drive of the game to a halt. On a 3rd-and-4 play at the Bills 13-yard line Ellis got pressure on Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, which disrupted the timing of a Miami screen pass allowing Terrence McGee to drop Brandon Marshall for a one-yard loss on the play. The Dolphins were forced to settle for a 32-yard field goal.
His biggest play came in the fourth quarter right after Buffalo's offense was forced to punt. On 1st-and-10 at the Miami 27-yard line, Henne dropped back and was sacked by Ellis, who came off the left side and dropped him for a six-yard loss.
Late in the game with under a minute and a half to play and the Bills desperate to get the ball back to their offense, Ellis teamed with Andra Davis to hold Ricky Williams to a two-yard gain on a 3rd-and-3 at the Buffalo 48, giving the Bills offense one more possession before time ran out.
"Chris did some nice things," said head coach Chan Gailey. "It can still get better at some of the basic things, the fundamentals of the position, but he had a big sack in the game and that was a big play for us. He did some good things. I thought that was a positive there."
Ellis' only regret was not stripping the ball out from Henne's grasp when he made the sack, though he tried to do so.
"If we get the ball right there we have better field position (for the offense) and I swiped it and it looked like it was coming out, but he just pulled it toward his body and held it," said Ellis. "That's just a play we've got to make so I'll work on that and on that kind of opportunity next time, make sure the ball comes out."
The third-year linebacker realizes he has to continue to progress with his coverage responsibilities and communicate with the safeties on those coverage assignments and better disguise their alignments pre-snap. But for a first time out in the 3-4, Ellis feels it was a stepping stone performance.
"It definitely feels good to get the first one in and to be productive out there," he said. "It feels good to get that first game in the system under the belt, but Green Bay is going to look at that on film and try to take advantage of everything I may have done wrong. So it's just a matter of tightening down all the bolts."