Last year as a rookie Leodis McKelvin said it was his goal to be a starter. And though it did not happen until injury struck Buffalo's secondary, he was ready when called upon. Now a year wiser and with Jabari Greer departing via free agency, McKelvin is prepared to be a starter from day one in 2009.
"It's a lot easier," said McKelvin in comparing year two to year one of his career. "I've been getting a lot of reps. Being with that first team and being able to go out there and showcase my talents it's coming along very well."
McKelvin's time on the field this past spring was a bit curtailed by his infected finger. He'll have competition from the likes of Reggie Corner, Drayton Florence and Ashton Youboty, but there is little doubt that when training camp begins the former number one pick will be lined up at right cornerback opposite Terrence McGee.
"I just come in and showcase my talent for what they picked me for," said McKelvin. "Showcase that I can make plays and that I can come in at a starting spot and do my job."
One of the fastest players on the team in terms of pure speed, McKelvin admits there were instances last season where thinking slowed his playing speed. He doesn't expect that to be an issue this fall as he has a firm grasp of Perry Fewell's defensive scheme. At the same time however, he recognizes that at cornerback it's important to stay sharp.
"Being able to know my assignment and put myself in the right spots, I still have a lot of things to prove, my technique and such," McKelvin said. "I don't worry about my natural ability too much, so I just work on my technique and everything will be smooth."
One of the better benefits for his game, as McKelvin sees it, is the opportunity to go against Lee Evans and Terrell Owens in practice every day. He can only see his game improving all the more being forced to cover those two wideouts on a daily basis.
"Those are two of the great receivers in the league," he said. "They're going to get better and better every day. Keep going against them every day and I will make improvements. I've just got to work hard every day and work on my techniques and I'll do fine."
McKelvin knows takeaways must go up for the defense in 2009 after they tied a franchise low last season with just 10 interceptions. And he fully intends to be a part of increasing that statistic beginning in September.
"I think I improved just by getting the reps out on the field last year," said McKelvin. "I feel I improved a great deal. So I'm going to come out this year and turn it up a lot."