Questions to be uncovered at mini-camp - Part II

In Part I of our story from yesterday, I covered the most pressing questions the Bills face on offense, which we will begin to unearth in mini-camp on Thursday. Defensively, the Bill have more questions than, I don't know, let's say Trivial Pursuit. Does anyone play Trivial Pursuit anymore? Enough of my awesome jokes. Here are some key questions Lary Bump and I hope to shed light on in the mini-camp.

Now usually during these practices Lary watches offense and I watch defense. I believe we're the only media outlet in the country that covers the Bills that way. Thus, nothing goes unnoticed.

Who lines up at left end with the first team? The Bills will try Bryce Fisher, Erik Flowers, Kendrick Office and rookie Ryan Denney there. Fisher was the guy behind Phil Hansen at the end of last season. Flowers also played there some, but was ineffective due to weight loss. Denney is a left end and he will likely move inside on passing downs to play under tackle next to Pat Williams – similar to what Hansen did during his career. But right now Denney will mostly play end, not tackle. Fisher is the first-team guy for now. We should also mention that Buffalo attempted to get some left ends in free agency – with Chidi Ahanotu topping the list – so none of the aforementioned players may be Buffalo's final answer.

What are we going to see from Erik Flowers? This is a must-show year for Flowers. Now we will see if all his off-season work is going to make his career come to fruition.

Who will be the under tackle? Leif Larsen leads the depth chart. But he's not the man Buffalo wants in there when the season starts. I mean there is still mad talk about getting a veteran defensive tackle after June 1. Tyrone Robertson is also a possibility, and I think he can do it, but he has to improve quite a bit. And rookie Justin Bannan has a lot more work to do than Robertson. Bannan is a bit of a project at this point.

Will the Bills feature all three starting linebackers in their nickel defense? Eddie Robinson, London Fletcher and Keith Newman have all been pretty effective on third downs in their careers. I think it's a good possibility Buffalo will feature all three, with Newman at left end in this configuration because he can take on a tight end and tackle and he's strong, man, very strong. I like this idea a lot. I'm in love with this idea, in fact.

What about free safety? Right now it looks like Travares Tillman. But during the rookie/first-year player orientation/camp last month, Pierson Prioleau and Tony Driver got looks there. Prioleau is ahead of Driver, of course. Driver is more of a strong safety, and on top of that, he's recovering from a knee tear. Prioleau has a good shot there, and the fact that he has strong safety-playing experience could be an advantage because he's a physical player. He puts his body on the line. Trend-wise (we all know coaches watch trends and copy them when they feel appropriate or when they fear they could be in jeopardy), this might match up too. Former Baltimore defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, now Washington's coordinator, doesn't name his safeties strong or free. He wants his safeties to play with elements of both positions – good hands (a must for free safety) and good tackling (a must for strong safety). Still, players have to line up somewhere. The safety on the weak side of the field, the free safety, plays in more space. Consequently, that player takes less of a beating. And that's good because the 5'11" Prioleau only weighs 191 pounds – so he may be ideal there. But he has to beat out Tillman.

What about strong safety? Billy Jenkins is the No. 1 strong safety, obviously, because they brought him in as an unrestricted free agent.

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