This is exactly what he wanted. It took time — from a year of learning, to biding his time behind veterans — but Da'Norris Searcy would tell you patience paid off.
Searcy, a third year safety, waited for the opportunity to make his impact on the defense, but as with most new players, he had to learn the ropes first.
"I would say as a rookie I took more of a back seat and learned," Searcy told Buffalobills.com "I learned how to be a pro from the older guys. I say that helped me a lot because it helped me grow as an individual."
His sophomore season saw him contributing to special teams but also producing a little more in the defensive scheme.
In the 2013 offseason however, Buffalo released Searcy's long-time mentor George Wilson. His departure offered up the opportunity Searcy desired.
"I knew I was going to have an impact in different situations," Searcy said. "I feel like I was able to grab a hold of that role, and I feel like whenever my number is called, I just go out and try to make plays."
Searcy's production speaks for itself. He's nearly eclipsed his production from the prior two seasons combined in the first nine games of 2013. But with 38 tackles, 15 assists, two and a half sacks, four pass defenses and a fumble recovery for a touchdown, he's not ready to call himself a success just yet.
"I've made some plays this year so far, and I'd like to continue that. Keep being the type of player who can plug in anywhere and have an impact on the game," Searcy said.
Going into the season, Searcy had the opportunity to play more not only because of the opening for his position, but because of team injuries as well. With Jairus Byrd injured, he said he played both in the strong safety role as well as a 'hybrid linebacker, safety' combo.
"Really it helped me learn more of the defense. Not just necessarily knowing what the backers and the secondary does, but I now know what they guys up front do as well," he said.
Although Byrd is again in the lineup, teammates took notice of Searcy's contributions, and in an injury riddled year, appreciated his ability to transform into whatever the scheme called for.
"(Searcy) is a versatile guy who can play any position," Aaron Williams, who also played a dual role on the defense this year, said. "He can help you out in a situation when one guy goes down, we always know he can step up. He's really acquainted with the scheme and the defense."
Williams compared Searcy to Bryan Scott, a six year veteran of the Bills who the team released in August. Scott played not only strong safety, but also a hybrid linebacker role.
"He's accepted his role and knows what he has to do and does it to the best of his ability," Williams said.
Searcy said learning the dual role increased his value, but wasn't too difficult for him.
"Really it was going back to high school, I played linebacker in high school," Searcy said. "I didn't play safety until college. So going back to linebacker in a hybrid role was like going back home for me, so it was easy to adjust."
Reflecting on his time in Buffalo, Searcy said he patterned himself after Wilson. Never be satisfied with anything less than perfection was one of Wilson's mottos, and he said he tries to embody it every day.
"I'm not a guy that craves a lot of attention," Searcy said. "I love the under the radar spot. I'm just a guy who comes and wants to play football. If the cameras and everything weren't here, I'd still want to play football."