Buffalo Bills cornerback Aaron Williams returned to practice (albeit on a limited basis) on Wednesday, and as a result, the team could be making several more role shifts at the position in the very near future.
It's assumed that Williams, the second-year pro that has missed each of the last three games with a knee injury, will play a significant role when he does return to the lineup; it's looking like that will be this weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That means that one of the team's current three top corners will see a significant role reduction, and right now that player will probably be Justin Rogers.
A second-year player out of Richmond, Rogers started the season as the dime back, but quickly took the nickel back job after Leodis McKelvin had another disastrous start to the season. McKelvin, however, has started in place of Williams these last three weeks, and has performed admirably. Bills head coach Chan Gailey has indicated this week that the team would like to see McKelvin back in that nickel role.
"I think our first choice would be to move Leodis in there," Gailey said earlier this week. "Leodis played it in the spring and played it in pre-season, and showed some good things in there."
Gailey also went out of his way to note that Rogers - who has really struggled of late, and had perhaps his worst game of the season in Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts - has been "up and down" and theorized that Rogers' play wavers along with his confidence. (Of course, the same thing can be said about Williams, who was perhaps the team's worst corner prior to his injury.)
What remains to be seen is whether or not Williams returns to the starting lineup. At least initially, with Williams just returning from a long layoff, don't be surprised if Williams acts as the third cornerback, with McKelvin starting and sliding into the slot in nickel packages. Williams did play in the slot some as a rookie, but the team appears intent on making him an outside cornerback, despite his struggles.
The real takeaway from the season-long game of musical chairs at cornerback slots two through four, however? The team only has one consistently good cornerback, and that's rookie Stephon Gilmore. The rest of the cornerback group has five games to step up and play with more consistency; if they can't accomplish that, the team may be looking for more competition at that position during the off-season.