Da'Norris Searcy was days away from beginning a new chapter in his life. His wedding to his long time sweetheart Kennetra was fast approaching when he heard the news that could begin a new chapter in his football career.
Veteran strong safety George Wilson had been released by the Bills. The man that helped school Searcy on how to be a professional in the NFL was no longer in front of him on Buffalo's depth chart. It put a valuable starting opportunity in front of Searcy entering his third NFL season.
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Wilson had texted the news to Searcy and every other defensive back on the roster, but the suddenly former defensive co-captain also spoke to his protégé by phone.
"Me and George talked the day he found out he was being released," Searcy told Buffalobills.com. "He and I had a one on one conversation. He said, 'Just keep doing what you've been doing. No slacking and keep working hard and everything should fall into place.'"
Wilson was also in attendance at Searcy's wedding in Houston just a few days later, but he didn't have to tell Searcy his time is now.
"It's a great opportunity and I'm going to take it in full stride," said Searcy.
Searcy got a fair amount of playing time at strong safety last season as he was rotated in with Wilson in 2012. The veteran safety got the majority of the snaps playing in 927 on defense for Buffalo last season, but Searcy got a respectable 279. Those snaps were split pretty evenly in run defense and pass defense situations with a nearly 50-50 split (130 run, 143 pass).
Though the defensive scheme he'll be playing in will be different this season, Searcy sees the time on the field last season serving him well.
"I think it will help tremendously," he said. "Being able to be out there on the field a lot and process plays and formations that the offense does and now being able to come back early it gives me more time to learn the playbook as fast as I can. With a whole new defense and the added time I feel like I'll be able to pick it up pretty quick."
As excited as Searcy is to seize the starting strong safety job he's fully aware of the fact that it's a job he has to prove he can capably fill.
"My mindset is still the same to come in and work," said Searcy. "Each year you fight for a job, it doesn't matter who you are. That mentality that I have is not going to change. It's always going to stay the same. I'm going to keep working to get better and better."
Searcy is also glad that Jairus Byrd was franchised by Buffalo virtually ensuring that he'll be back this season.
"It was good. I felt more relaxed knowing that we'll have Jairus back," he said. "It's good that I'll be back with him and see a familiar face. We've grown in our communication out on the field so that'll add to the carryover going into this season."
The up and coming safety was always self-motivated, but armed with the knowledge that his predecessor helped to instill in him, Searcy is eager to make good on all the lessons learned and turn it into top flight production for his team this fall.
"The lesson I'll carry with me from George the most is to never be satisfied with less than perfection," said Searcy. "Always keep working. There's always a way to get better. If you have any weaknesses work on your weaknesses. If you don't have any weaknesses still work on everything because you don't want to put a limit on your game. No matter how hard you work you should still strive to get better."