Bills Notebook: Interested in a Linebacker?

Buffalo is one of 11 teams to visit with Tennessee's Jerod Mayo...Denney's foot problems reaching closure...and more.

Maybe bad blood isn't contagious.

Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo has been working out with two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes in preparation of the NFL Draft, the Boston Globe reports. Spikes, of course, was part of Marv Levy's veteran spring cleaning a year ago, and left on not-so-good terms.

Mayo, whose stock has risen from a second-round pick to possible top 10 selection, is scheduled to visit with 11 teams before the draft, including Buffalo. The others are New England, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, New Orleans, Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas, Washington and the New York Jets. The Patriots, which own the seventh overall pick, appear to be the most logical suitor for the 6-foot-1, 242-pound, early entry, Mayo. His size and instincts are ideal for an inside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. Still, the Patriots have a pressing need at cornerback, and could have their pick of the litter, including Leodis McKelvin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Linebacker is arguably Buffalo's most loaded position. Paul Posluszny will return from a season-ending forearm injury, and the team added New York Giants' standout Kawika Mitchell. With Angelo Crowell, John DiGiorgio and Keith Ellison also in the mix, the Bills have considerable depth and young talent.

Still, after wide receiver Malcolm Kelly's treacherous week, anything is possible. Backup linebackers Josh Stamer (left to Tennessee via free agency) and Mario Haggan (suspended) can't be counted on in 2008, which may raise some concern. Plus, the Bills may simply draft who they believe is the best overall player at No. 11.

Mayo is an intriguing prospect. Last season he made 79 tackles for the Vols in the men-only SEC. He's fluid in coverage and naturally swarms to the ball against the run. It's difficult to gauge where/how Mayo would fit in with the Bills scheme. Most likely, he'd be a top backup behind Crowell, Mitchell and Posluszny. If McKelvin and Rodgers-Cromartie are each drafted before Buffalo picks, Mayo may join the discussion. The Bills might believe South Florida's Mike Jenkins (or another CB) is a reach, and that Mayo is a can't-pass-up value pick. Don't expect such a scenario for now, though. The team has had consistent interest in Michigan State wide receiver Devin Thomas. It'd be hard for the Bills to sell the Mayo pick, considering the wretched state of its receiving corps.

Denney cleared

On the opening kickoff of Buffalo's preseason game against Tennessee last season, Ryan Denney's season shriveled into one gigantic frustration.

He injured his foot, and it never went away. Denney missed the first half of the season after foot surgery, and started in week 13 and 14 for an injured Chris Kelsay. But the foot never properly healed. He tried to fight through it with the Bills firmly in the playoff picture. After Cleveland defeated Buffalo, 8-0, and the Bills' postseason hopes were dashed, Denney had a second surgery. This time, doctors put a thicker screw in his hope. The difference was night and day.

"Totally different," said Denny on buffalobills.com. "It's a 180-degree difference. Even the first week out of the cast I could feel that there was a big difference. My last x-ray showed it was 95 percent healed and that was 10-12 weeks out from surgery."

The new screw wasn't the ends-all to Denney's recovery. He hasn't been able to go all out in his training, until last Tuesday, when officially cleared by doctors. Denney has been on the stair-stepper and biking frequently in place of the normal off-season conditioning program. With three and a half months until training camp, the 265-pounder has time to reset his career to a point it was prior to the Titans' game – thanks to the new, sturdy screw in his foot.

"Knowing last year I was able to play with it hurting and partially broken to where it's healed up and feels great, I'm not worried about coming back and struggling at all," he said. "I'm encouraged by the way it feels right now."

Quick Hits

- Trent Edwards has added 10 lb. of muscle since Buffalo's season ended. He is now 226 lb., with considerably more upper-body mass. This should benefit his progression as deep-threat passer. Last year, Edwards often settled on underneath routes (averaged 6.06 yards per completion).

- Blessing in disguise? Maybe. Kelly's pro day dud could end up helping the Bills, if they still have interest. Many refined expert mock drafts have Kelly slipping into the second round, where Buffalo may steal the Oklahoma receiver. Still, his attitude after the pro day will linger.

- Tight end Kevin Everett had minor surgery last week to relieve pain in his neck. Everett was paralyzed from the neck down on a tackle in Buffalo's season opener against Denver. After a made-for-movie surgery and recovery, Everett is walking on his own. Doctors reiterate that his recent surgery was a "very minor procedure."


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