After three fairly strong outings as the nickel cornerback in the Buffalo Bills' first three games of the 2010 NFL season, Leodis McKelvin got the start this past Sunday in place of the injured Terrence McGee. He had a horrible outing, getting burned twice on touchdown passes and, aside from one big hit, looking relatively uncomfortable overall.
Perhaps that's because he literally was uncomfortable.
Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com reported yesterday that McKelvin woke up Sunday morning with, as McKelvin described it, a "crick" in his neck that made it difficult for him to turn his head. In the hours leading up to the game, and on the sidelines during the game, McKelvin wore a thick heating collar around his neck trying to loosen up his injury. It clearly didn't work too well, as Brown reports that McKelvin was still donning the collar Wednesday.
McKelvin gave up a 41-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards in which the corner appeared to have been expecting safety help over the top. If he can't turn his head to check that the help is actually there, clearly, that makes his job more difficult. McKelvin also gave up a short touchdown throw to Dustin Keller; on that play, McKelvin was running in front of Keller, but the tight end stopped abruptly, creating separation for an easy score.
Consistency has always been McKelvin's biggest issue, and I'm not sure we can explain away Sunday's gaffes themselves by this injury. Certainly the magnitude of the errors, however, can be attributed to what sounds like a fairly painful injury. This situation is similar to one McGee dealt with in 2008, when, playing on a bum knee, he gave up 175 receiving yards to Ted Ginn.