Prioleau aims to beat out Tillman at FS

In the current mini-camp, Pierson Prioleau has been the first-team free safety. Prioleau started 11 games for the 49ers in 1999 and 2000 – mostly at free safety – before joining the Bills as a mid-season pickup in 2001. Here in this Shout! EXCLUSIVE with Mike Doser, Prioleau discusses competing with Travares Tillman. Buffalo has also looked at acquiring Eagles free agent FS Damon Moore, but today Gregg Williams was non-committal about Moore. Right now it's Tillman vs. Prioleau.


Mike Doser: Pierson, you're switching from strong to free safety. You've also played some corner with San Francisco. What makes you think the change will go smoothly?

Pierson Prioleau: I think I can contribute a whole lot with leadership and being able to control the defense from a quarterback-of-the-defense standpoint at free safety. And I'm able to make plays. With the 49ers I played all three positions. I started most of the games as a free safety in San Francisco. But when I came here I was at strong. Before free safety and strong safety with the 49ers I was at corner. I pride myself on being able to play any position in the secondary.

MD: Some people have doubted whether you could stand up to the pounding that a strong safety takes if you were to start 16 games there. I know you said last year that you weren't concerned about that. But now at free safety, you don't have to concern yourself with that.

PP: A free safety definitely is not in-the-box as much as a strong safety in this defense. The strong safety almost plays like a linebacker here. At free, your body takes a whole lot less wear and tear. I really never had any concerns about that. I think I will last longer as a free safety because of that. To me I never had any concern about lasting 16 games because I'm a tough guy. I think I can do it. It's not really a preference either. My preference is to be on the field and help the defense any way I can.

MD: One of the reasons the Bills liked you last year was that you were aggressive and when you made a hit or tackled, your opponent went down. Now at free, you have to be able to handle the ball and intercept. Are your hands good?

PP: Well, at free safety, you definitely have to be able to play the ball a lot better than at strong safety. Strong safety you're in the box. Things are more compact and close. Free safety the important things are range, being able to get from sideline to sideline, making plays on the ball. Those are the things that I'm working on right now because I think tackling and being physical are first nature to me.

MD: At Virginia Tech didn't you play corner?

PP: I played strong safety for two years and corner for two years. So I've been all over. It's fun. It actually helps me out to be able to know a whole lot of what the other guys are going through on the field. Being able to know how the linebackers work and how the corners work and how we all work together can only help me at free safety.

MD: Now you and Travares Tillman are competing for the position. We've seen in the past where things can get pretty heated at times when you're fighting for a job at this level.

PP: So far me and Travares have been the best of friends. We actually stayed together during these off-season camps. We're roommates. On-the-field things like this you never take off the field. I know he wants to play and win just as much as I want to play and win. You can't really take things so personal.

MD: Have you spent most of the off-season up here?

PP:  Yes. I want to know the defensive system the Bills operate because the system is fairly new to me. Travares has also been here. He has a place that I'm rooming with him at until I get mine. From the outside looking in, a lot of people that when you're gunning for a guy's position that you hate that guy. But I'm not really gunning for his position. I'm gunning to play football for the Bills and I'm gunning to be on the field – whatever position it is. We don't take these things personal because some of it is beyond our control.

MD: Are you completely out of the picture at strong safety?

PP: Well, there hasn't been much talk about it. I haven't gotten many reps there during these camps. I've gotten some. I'll continue to study strong safety in case of injury. I feel they have confidence in me enough to move me back there in case injuries happen.

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