The Buffalo Bills have been slowly working second-year strong safety Da'Norris Searcy into the lineup throughout the majority of the 2012 regular season. Those efforts have increased recently, to the point that it would not be surprising if Searcy soon supplants veteran George Wilson as the team's starter.
In last Sunday's 34-18 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Wilson saw only six more snaps (41) than did Searcy (35) in the defensive backfield. Typically, Searcy has snagged between 30 and 40 percent of those reps this season; he's now approaching an even 50/50 split with Wilson playing alongside free safety Jairus Byrd.
Searcy, 24, was a fourth-round draft pick a year ago out of North Carolina. Wilson, who will turn 32 in March, has been the team's starting strong safety since Donte Whitner departed as a free agent following the 2010 season. Neither player has been a stand-out at the position this season; Wilson has 74 tackles and three defended passes, while Searcy has 31 tackles and two forced fumbles. Granted, these two safeties are not given the freedom to roam the way Byrd has, but neither player has been able to seize the proverbial "lead" as these reps have been split by making game-changing plays.
The momentum, however, may be finally swinging in Searcy's favor. Wilson still has the much better pro resume - he had recorded 10 interceptions in his past three seasons entering the 2012 calendar year - but his drop in production has led directly to Searcy seeing more work. 2013 is the final year of a three-year contract Wilson signed just prior to the 2011 lockout; he's due to make $2.45 million next season. Whether or not he makes it may depend on whether or not he's a starter.