Bills head coach Rex Ryan was happy about a lot of things as his team re-assembled from the bye week Monday. He was happy his team’s collective health was much improved, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. He was happy to have a fresh perspective of his team after getting time to reflect during the off week, and he was happy to see one of his more athletically gifted defenders ready to return to the lineup.
Ryan revealed on Monday that Leodis McKelvin will be added to the 53-man roster later this week.
“I’m excited he’s back,” said Ryan. “To his credit, even in London, he went out there and he wanted to test it. So many times when a guys coming off those things, having setbacks before, he went right in and tackled somebody in no pads. I think that was big for him. He’s a good football player and to have him back is really going to help.”
McKelvin returned to practice with the team during their week in London, but was still on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list. That will change this week meaning the Bills will have to move a player off the roster to make room for him. Where McKelvin will help first is expected to be on special teams as a punt returner, where Buffalo currently ranks 16th in the NFL. Field position has been an issue for the Bills this season.
He may also have to help at a position where he hasn’t played since he was a teenager. With starters Aaron Williams on short-term injured reserve and Corey Graham nursing a groin injury, McKelvin said he will be spending some time lining up at safety this week.
“I played it in high school and that’s a while ago, but being able to know the defense, it’s not hard,” McKelvin said. “As you see on our roster, all our safeties have been corners. The majority of our defense we just play man to man, so everything should be easy. Go out there and communicate, know what you’re doing, play man to man and ball out.”
Ryan indicated that he expects Graham to be healthy enough to play on Sunday against Miami, though he said the veteran would be limited in practice Wednesday. Duke Williams has been playing safety opposite Graham in the absence of Aaron Williams logging 100 percent of the snaps the past two games.
But it’s clear Ryan isn’t afraid to make use of McKelvin’s talents even if it’s not at his natural position. McKelvin isn’t concerned if he’s called upon to play safety, even though the responsibilities are in stark contrast to that of cornerback.
“Most definitely it’s different,” McKelvin said. “You’ve got a lot of moving parts. At safety you’ve got to be able to communicate and make sure the guys on the outside are doing what they need to do. It’s all about knowing the defense. If you know the defense then you’re not going to have that problem. We’re all one group so we all have to work together.”
After almost a full year on the sidelines McKelvin just wants to contribute to the team’s second-half push.
“Whenever the day is going to be or the time is going to come or whenever my name is called, no matter what it’s going to be, corner, nickel, safety, return, whatever, offense, it doesn’t matter as long as I get the ball in my hands,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where I’m going to be I’m going to go out there and give it my all. I’ve never been around a talented defense, a talented team like this. I promise I’m going to give my all.”