Rookie safety Da'Norris Searcy in his short time with the Bills is best known for his Hail Mary interception in Week 2 at the end of regulation that preserved Buffalo's 38-35 victory over Oakland. But if the Bills are forced to insert Searcy in their defensive lineup this week they believe the odds of getting good play out of him are far greater than any last second heave to the end zone.
The opportunities have been limited on defense for the Bills fourth-round pick until last Sunday when starter George Wilson exited with a stinger in his shoulder. Wilson was injured on the second to last play of a Dallas touchdown drive late in the second quarter, but Searcy wasn't aware of it until after the Bills got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff.
"I didn't see him get hurt because I had to go out for special teams," Searcy told Buffalobills.com. "And when I came back off the field coach told me that George was out and I was up. So I was ready to go."
Searcy fortunately had halftime to fully prepare himself after Dallas ran out the clock at the end of the first half with a couple of runs and a kneel down.
"I was just eager to get in there and play," he said.
It showed come the second half as Searcy was in on the second defensive play of the second half teaming up with fellow draft classmate Kelvin Sheppard to tackle Phillip Tanner on a run play. Searcy and Sheppard are two of only five Georgia natives on the active roster and have known each other since high school with both hailing from DeKalb county. Now playing on the same NFL defensive unit, it felt a bit like fate.
"At the end of every high school football season whether it was a county banquet or state banquet I'd see him," said Searcy. "We followed each other all through college and sometimes we'd meet up when we were back in town. And now that we're together on the same NFL team it's insane."
Searcy would go on to make four more tackles in the Cowboys game, three of them solo and all against the run.
"He played around 25 snaps in the ball game and made some plays," said head coach Chan Gailey. "He made some instinctive plays, which was a positive. A lot of times those guys go in there and try to do exactly what you say and play robotic. He made some instinctive plays on the field so it was a positive for him to get some time."
The rookie credits Wilson for helping to get him up to speed quickly on Buffalo's defensive scheme. The Bills co-captain tutored him down in Atlanta during the lockout in the summer and Searcy has attached himself to Wilson's hip since the team reported to One Bills Drive.
"I sit by him every week and we go over all the plays together and anything the coaches say I write it down," said Searcy. "If I have any questions I ask him, or he'll come to me to see if I have any questions or if I need to discuss anything. He tells me what's going to happen in the game and reminds me that you never know when your number is going to be called and to be prepared."
The opportunity to make his first career start could come on Sunday in Miami if Wilson is unable to recover in time to face the Dolphins. Gailey called Wilson "day to day."
"I don't know how serious George's injury is, but I'm going to continue to sit beside him in meetings and take notes and ask him as many questions as I can," said Searcy. "We don't know, but just in case he can't go then I'll be ready to come in and play."
And judging by Gailey's review of Searcy's most extended action thus far the coaching staff has confidence that the rookie can fill the void if necessary.
"I think if he has to go play he'll play well," said Gailey.