When he was signed by the Buffalo Bills on June 5 of this year, linebacker Reggie Torbor joined a team that was thought to have already been assembled. The Bills were in the midst of OTA practices, and had been working out former defensive ends Chris Kelsay and Aaron Maybin as primary outside linebackers in the team's new 3-4 defense.
Upon his arrival, Torbor worked to make an impact in the lineup, building upon his experience of working in the 3-4 defense previously. Although he did miss the first few OTA sessions, Torbor felt like he was more than up to speed when training camp began July 28 at St. John Fisher.
"Just like the end of camp, it's a work in progress. You come out and learn the defense, but it's always like small coaching points, so at this point it's about fine tuning and getting up all of the small coaching points," he said. "The offense, they try to take advantage of certain things, they know what we're doing, so it is good to get out here and get all this stuff done, rather than get it done on Sundays."
Within a few weeks of joining the Bills, Torbor was consistently taking reps with the first team as an outside backer, with Maybin spelling him in the nickel package and other pass rushing situations. Knowing the general defensive scheme was a tremendous asset early on, though Torbor said that he still had to learn the exact terminology along with the rest of his teammates.
"It definitely helped at the beginning. Now, I think there are a lot of things that we do here that's different than what I've done in the past," he said. "While my learning curve might not be as great, there is still some learning to it, so it is still a work in progress."
Torbor was released by Miami on May 27 after two seasons with the AFC East-rival Dolphins, where he recorded 54 tackles, 1.5 sacks and an interception in limited duty as a reserve. He originally entered the NFL as a fourth-round selection of the New York Giants in the 2004 NFL Draft out of Auburn University. Torbor, along with current teammate and fellow linebacker Kawika Mitchell, were members of the 2007 Super Bowl Championship team that prevented the New England Patriots from achieving a perfect season.
While in Miami, Torbor was mainly an inside linebacker in the 3-4, but has been used regularly on the outside thus far during OTAs and training camp. While making an occasional appearance on the inside is something familiar, given he spent a great deal of time there previously, the ability to be versatile and perform wherever one is asked to play, Torbor said, is a key to success in the NFL.
"Those decisions are over my head, I do what I'm told to do. The more you can do (as a player), the better it is, looking at it from an individual standpoint," he said. "Right now, I'm outside. They tell me to do something else, I will do something else."
Torbor's Miami tenure coincided nicely with his move to the Bills, as he is very familiar with defensive coordinator George Edwards. Edwards served as Miami's linebackers coach the past five seasons, the last two of which when Torbor was a member of the defense. Both have been very positive about the opportunity to work with one another again.
"Just a good guy, a good coach. He doesn't take any shortcuts, very detailed, that's what I like about him," Torbor said. "Always wants to push you, he never gets satisfied. Even when you think you've done a great job, he will pull you aside and say, 'Hey, you could have done this a little better,' so I think that will be good for our defense."
"I had the pleasure of coaching him before earlier in his career. We kind of knew coming in what he would bring to the table," Edwards said. "He's helped us. A lot of different pieces we've added have really been helpful to us in the transition."
Despite starting only 21 career games entering this season, Torbor has been a part of successful defensive programs in the past, and is an asset to Edwards and head coach Chan Gailey as a proven veteran in a defense along the lines of what the team plans to operate.
"He is a very intelligent football player. He's a tough guy, which is what you always want, a good athlete," Gailey said. "But he coaches. He's a coach on the field, almost. He knows what we're trying to get done and that's been a real plus for our football team."
Torbor views his role with the Bills not only as a vocal leader on the field, but taking an active role in mentoring the next crop of contributors on the team. He is trying to set a similar example to what was set for him by his veteran teammates in New York early in his career.
"I look at it as my responsibility. As far as the league is concerned, that's what it is, old players get old and move out, and other guys come on," Torbor said. "I was afforded to play with guys like Michael Strahan, Amani Toomer, Carlos Emmons, so I'm just returning the favor."
With heightened expectations across the board in 2010, Torbor is a veteran in a relatively young locker room, with much of the team's future success brokered on the development of youthful playmakers at various positions. Entering his seventh season, as a member of his third team, with a Super Bowl victory earned along the way, Torbor feels that he can help bring a winning mentality to the Bills.
"I think I am blessed to have that experience. You get guys who play 15, 16 years that don't have that experience, and Hall of Fame players who never went to or won a Super Bowl," he said. "For me to be able to bring that to the table, it's great. It's not all hype, it is the pinnacle of our profession, so that's great experience to have."