ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Brad Smith #16 of the Buffalo Bills rushes and picks up a first down during an NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
While we're on the subject of Buffalo Bills fullback/tight end Dorin Dickerson and the idea that he likely won't have a specialized role with his new team, let's take a look at a few Bills players who do have decidedly specialized roles.
No one better fits the description of a "specialist" than Brad Smith, who was signed to a lucrative four-year contract specifically to be a jack-of-all-trades. Though he is currently practicing as a quarterback at team OTAs, Smith is likely to serve predominantly as the operator of Wildcat packages, which he did at the outset of the 2011 season with varying degrees of success. Smith can also return kicks, play receiver and cover on special teams, but his best value to the team will likely be as a specialized ball carrier. He looks to be the only player around which Chan Gailey will design specific packages, at least.
There are a few more guys worth mentioning, but none of them fit the "specialist" role as cleanly as Smith does.
Maybe it's just me, but I consider the role that Bryan Scott plays on defense a specialist's role. He's not a linebacker, really, nor is he a safety. He is a nickel linebacker - he plays only in sub-packages, and he's tasked with playing in space, something that the majority of Buffalo's linebackers have struggled with in recent seasons. Scott has settled into the role nicely and become a steady performer, recording 105 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions, four fumble recoveries and two touchdowns.
Those are the two biggies - Smith and Scott - but if we stretch a little bit, we might be able to find a few more.
Corey McIntyre and Lee Smith are rarely-utilized bit players in Gailey's offense, and they're blocking specialists. McIntyre is the only true fullback on the roster, and Smith is by far and away the best blocking tight end on the team - in fact, he's the only blocking tight end on the team. Though neither plays a lot, these blockers can be considered specialists. (Or maybe they're just role players.)
Finally, I would not call either a specialist at the moment, but I'm interested to see how both Arthur Moats and Danny Batten assimilate to the 4-3 defense as linebackers. The two former stand-out collegiate defensive ends don't have the size that the team desires at end, so they're playing linebacker now - but they still possess rush ability, which makes them unique at a linebacker position otherwise populated by much more traditional players. Moats is of particular interest to me here, as he's got the prototypical size of a linebacker, but has a good first step, a good motor and has rushing capability. I'm curious to see if he can develop into a situational player as a rusher from the linebacker position under Wannstedt.
Who else would you consider a "specialist," Bills fans?