After spending most of the Buffalo Bills' last five games as an emergency fill-in at cornerback, Aaron Williams appears primed to return to safety in Week 8 when the Bills take on the New Orleans Saints.
Williams first played corner in Week 3 against the Jets when Leodis McKelvin left after just seven snaps with a hamstring injury. Since then, Williams has spent four full weeks practicing at cornerback during the week and playing there on Sundays, despite the team listing him as a safety each of the past two Sunday mornings with Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd back in the lineup.
Buffalo's numbers are back up at cornerback, where McKelvin is once again fully healthy, Gilmore is getting healthier as he plays a limited role with a club on his hand, and Ron Brooks is back in action after post-Week 1 foot surgery. That trio, along with rookie nickel man Nickell Robey, gives the Bills sufficient depth at the position, and it should allow Williams to return to his preferred spot.
The Bills hit the practice field on Wednesday morning to begin prep work for Drew Brees and the Saints, and reporters on hand noted that Williams was back at safety - lining up alongside Byrd - with Gilmore and McKelvin handling the starting cornerback roles, as had been the plan leading up to training camp.
Aaron Williams at safety today with Jairus Byrd. McKelvin and Gilmore at corner during initial reps. #Bills— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) October 23, 2013
Several reporters also pointed out that Gilmore was practicing without a club - or, at least, with a much smaller one - for the first time since his return to the practice field prior to Week 6. Gilmore has played 62 out of a possible 152 snaps over the past couple of weeks, but if the club comes off, his per-game snap counts should skyrocket. Teams have picked on him a bit over the last two games as he's essentially tried to play one-armed football.
It's also worth noting that, if this trend holds and Williams is back at safety with Gilmore on the outside in New Orleans, it'll be the first time that Buffalo's starting secondary will have played together in their normal positions all season thanks to Byrd missing training camp. In an ideal world, the Bills will rotate four cornerbacks (Gilmore and McKelvin on the outside, Brooks and Robey in the slot), with Byrd and Williams playing deep safety and Da'Norris Searcy working in as an in-the-box nickel and dime option.
Jim Leonhard, for the record, appears to be the odd man out.