One of the first moves Buffalo Bills GM Buddy Nix made following the announcement that the team would be shifting to a 3-4 defense two tears ago was signing defensive end Dwan Edwards to help with the shift. The veteran held down a starting job for two seasons, but his playing time and even his roster spot could be in jeopardy now that the Bills are moving back to a four-man front.
Edwards is currently listed as a backup tackle behind Marcell Dareus on the team's official website. It's exceedingly unlikely he will supplant last year's third overall pick in the starting rotation, and he's not likely to bypass Kyle Williams unless the former Pro Bowler is still feeling the effects of ankle surgery.
"From a defensive line standpoint, seeing the talent that we have, there's going to be a lot of competition," Edwards told the Billings Gazette. "In the end, that's going to make us all better."Scheduled to make $3.8 million in 2012, Edwards' spot on the team may also be in jeopardy, but he's not worried. The other depth options at tackle have much less experience, a group that includes 2010 draft picks Alex Carrington and Torell Troup.
"It's funny, and as a professional you can't worry about that stuff," he said of internet speculation. "You just take it day by day, practice by practice, and try to be the best player you can be that day. Everything else will take care of itself."
"You can't get too caught up in what people are saying. Those people are obviously on the outside. You've got to keep it in-house and worry about the stuff you can control," he said. "And I guess, one of the advantages of being a veteran, I just know how stuff goes. Eventually the cream rises to the top. That's all I know."
Despite playing in a 3-4 defense for the majority of his professional career, the former Baltimore Raven does not think it will be a huge transition to a 4-3, and welcomes the opportunity.
"I think that I'll do great," he said. "From just a scheme standpoint, like everywhere I've been and most teams in the NFL, they're going to play a version of 4-3, they're going to play a version of 3-4. I've played it my whole life, even in college we played 4-3. Even last year, after we had a few injuries, we went right to a 4-3 and played that a majority of the time. I don't think that will be necessarily an issue at all. Having my same defensive line coach (Giff Smith), and being familiar with (Dave) Wannstedt, I don't think it will be much of a transition."
Edwards thinks the changes they've made on defense, including the additions at pass rusher, will have a great impact on the team's success.
"With the pieces we have, it's going to be fun," Edwards said. "Having a guy like Mario Williams out there next to you, he's obviously going to draw a lot of attention and force a quarterback to do stuff. It's going to make us all better... I definitely do think that with our defense, and if we don't go out there and turn the ball over, we'll be in every single game," Edwards said. "That will give us a tremendous opportunity to win. You’ve got to feel with the additions we have, and things we'll be able to do, we're going to have a chance to make some noise."