Winfield on Flowers

Shout! player columnist Antoine Winfield and Erik Flowers are good friends, and have been since Flowers arrived in Buffalo two years ago. Flowers, of course, was cut yesterday by the Bills after a little over two years with the team. He just didn't show the physical presence that Buffalo was looking for in its defensive ends. Here's what Winfield said about Flowers, discussing the difficulty of being friends while knowing that Flowers' football career in Buffalo was on the bubble.

"It's tough," said Winfield, who was the Bills' first-round pick in 1999. "I think there's a lot of pressure on first-rounders. Erik was a first-round pick. They expect him to come in here and dominate. Sometimes that doesn't happen. He came in here and he was hurt a little bit and he didn't start and then Aaron Schobel came in and took his starting spot. That's tough. There was a lot of pressure – from family, friends and fans. He's worked out hard this off-season. He gained a lot of weight. He got stronger. He's just doing the best he can, basically."

Flowers said last year that he felt he was struggling because he had lost so much weight. He added that he was doing too much thinking about his technique.

One of the things that troubled him in Buffalo is that there were other players at the ends who were more physical than he was and more willing to take on blockers.

Flowers admitted, "I really don't like to be covered. I like to be out in open space. There's no secret about that."

So when the coaches moved him to left end last season, they were putting him in more traffic and less space, where he just wasn't effective enough. He said he never shies away from contact, but during games it looked like he never wanted to take on a lineman or tight end one-on-one, instead opting to go around, which would often take him out of the play.

Yet Flowers remained optimistic.

"I know I'm going to get this straightened out," he said last December, when there were minor trade rumors swirling. "My first year, I was too heavy. Second year, I'm too light. I know what I need to do. Whoever I end up with this year (if there is a trade) they're going to get a guy who works hard and hopefully grows."


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