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State of the Buffalo Bills: Linebackers

Buffalo's linebackers have disappointed in the first seven weeks of the season.

Buffalo Football Report is evaluating the Bills current roster as they prepare for their eighth game of the season. We will discuss each player at each position and provide you positives and negatives with their play through seven games this season.


Nigel Bradham

Positives: Bradham leads the Bills in stops with 17 after seven games.

Negatives: The linebacker is having a disappointing season after seven games. He’s struggled in quite a few areas, but his biggest weakness has been missed tackles. Bradham leads Buffalo with eight missed tackles this season. The linebacker has the second lowest defensive rating on Pro Football Focus with a -10.0 and he’s had issues in run defense and in coverage. Through seven games, Bradham has allowed 19 receptions on 29 targets for 252 yards and a touchdown. Of the 252 yards, 188 are yards after catch.

Future: Bradham is a free agent after the season and if his poor play continues, the Bills may need to let him walk away.

Preston Brown

Positives: Brown always seems to be around the ball but he hasn’t matched the production he had as a rookie. The linebacker has recorded two interceptions this season.

Negatives: Brown is Buffalo’s lowest rated defensive player on PFF (-13.9). He’s struggled in coverage, allowing 15 completions on 20 pass attempts and he’s really struggled in run defense this year for the Bills.

Future: Brown has taken a step back in his sophomore season but the same can seemingly be said about the majority of Buffalo's front seven.

Manny Lawson

Positives: Lawson hasn’t played as much as Bradham and Brown, but among the trio he’s been the best in run defense.

Negatives: Lawson doesn’t bring much to the table as a pass rusher or in coverage.

Future: Lawson’s role is limited and by next season he could be replaced.

Randell Johnson

Positives: Johnson is raw but athletic. He currently contributes on special teams.

Negatives: The linebacker has only played three defensive snaps this season per PFF.

Future: Johnson has a chance to win a bigger role with the defense next year but he may just end up being a special teams contributor and nothing more.

I.K. Enemkpali

Positives: Buffalo believes Enemkpali has pass rushing potential. This hasn’t been seen on the field to date, but the Bills seem to be high on him.

Negatives: He’s only played 12 defensive snaps and one of them involved a missed tackle.

Future: Enemkpali will have to show the ability to get after the quarterback over the final nine games of the year to show that he has a future with Buffalo.

Tony Steward

Positives: Unknown.

Negatives: Unknown.

Future: The draft pick hasn’t contributed for the Bills this season. The Bills seem to believe that he can push for a reserve role in the future. 

A.J. Tarpley

Positives: Unknown. Tarpley has played 14 defensive snaps this season.

Negatives: Unknown.

Future: Tarpley’s status with the Bills long-term is uncertain.

Ty Powell

Positives: Powell had a terrific training camp and seemed ready to see an increased role as the team’s top reserve linebacker.

Negatives: Powell tore his ACL in August.

Future: Powell will have a good chance to regain this role next season.





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