With most pre-training camp discussions focusing on the Buffalo Bills' 2013 starting lineup, there are several backups that should see significant playing time this season. Here at Buffalo Rumblings, we've decided to take a look at some of those players and determine which ones could be expected to take on a prominent role for the Bills.
Alex Carrington was the Bills' third-round draft choice in 2010, when the team was transitioning to a 3-4 defensive front. A 4-3 defensive end at Arkansas State, Carrington hasn't been able to see much playing time since entering the league.
Last year, Carrington played just 352 snaps, or 31.6 percent of the Bills' defensive total. However, he made the most out of his limited reps, recording 19 tackles (six of which came for a loss), two sacks, one forced fumble and three batted passes. Additionally, he was a major special teams contributor, blocking six kicks and earning the nickname "Megahand" from teammate Stevie Johnson.
Carrington was a well-balanced player last season according to ProFootballFocus.com, as he generated 18 quarterback pressures while making 10 stops against the run.
Carrington was ProFootballFocus' Bills' "Secret Superstar" for 2013, who wrote:
Carrington's breakout was one of the bright spots of the Bills' 2012 season, but his role is again unclear in his upcoming contract year. Williams and Dareus are entrenched as starters, and newcomer Alan Branch will certainly demand significant snaps. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has promised to install a "hybrid" defense, which could be a good thing if it takes advantage of Carrington's versatility as a 4-3 DT or 3-4 DE, or a bad thing if again pushes him to the outside. Nevertheless, Carrington's breakout season wasn't confined to special teams. He earned a+8.7 overall grade on defense, with only three negatively-graded games. Here's hoping that the Bills place personnel before scheme, and set their Secret Superstar up for success in 2013.
This off-season, it appeared that Carrington was going to take on an increased role as the Bills hired former New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who runs a "hybrid" 3-4 defensive front. However, the team went out and signed another versatile defensive lineman in Alan Branch, seemingly relegating Carrington to a rotational role again.
While Carrington will be a rotational player, he should see an uptick in his snap count during the 2013 season, as defensive line coach Anthony Weaver stated.
"Love him. Love him," Weaver said when discussing Carrington. "He didn't get a bunch of reps (last year) but the reps he got, he was doing work out there. I expect to see a lot of the same this year."
Carrington is a versatile player, an attribute that Pettine has been describing as a necessity for the team, as he has the ability to play defensive end in a 3-4, defensive tackle in 4-3 looks and even nose tackle, according to Weaver.
If the Bills' coaching staff really wants to maximize the talents of the various 'tweeners on the roster, it would be wise to make sure that Carrington comes off the bench as much as possible, in order to keep the starting defensive linemen fresh. While it will be difficult to get Carrington on the field as much as his talent should ensure, he's a valuable player to the team that should be able to make plays in 2013.