Over the past two weeks, I've received dozens upon dozens of emails from Buffalo Bills fans voicing a wide range of opinions and questions that have popped up since the start of Bills training camp. No one Bills player has been the subject of more of those emails than second-year outside linebacker Aaron Maybin.
The paraphrased thrust of all of those questions and opinions: "Should we be worried that Maybin hasn't been able to beat out Reggie Torbor for a starting role?" My answer is a hearty and unequivocal "no."
Maybin is listed on the depth chart as a second-teamer, but has seen a very healthy amount of first-team reps as a pass rusher - so even if he is not technically a "starter," you're going to see a lot of No. 58 on the field this year. Not only am I not worried about this likely platoon between Torbor and Maybin on the weak side, I am of the opinion that it will be beneficial over the long haul for Maybin as he eases into the 3-4 defense.
Quite simply, Maybin is not anywhere close to being ready to be an every-down player in this league; he may never get there, but this scheme gives him the best chance to realize that goal. A part-time role will allow him to focus on the raw talent that made him a No. 11 overall pick in the first place - his pass rushing abilities. More importantly, it will allow defensive coordinator George Edwards to highlight the skills that Maybin already possesses - burst, length, hustle - and build him up fundamentally from this point forward. The platoon is the best decision for the defensive unit, and it is best for Maybin, who is already facing unrealistic expectations now that he's viewed as the top pass-rusher in the wake of Aaron Schobel's release.
Aaron Maybin is barely 22 years old. He's learning a new defensive scheme, he's still developing as a professional football player, and believe it or not, the Bills would like to try to win a few games in 2010. I'm not worried about Maybin; clearly, he needs to do a lot more than he did as a rookie, but this platoon will afford him that opportunity better than an every-down starter's role. Give him time, folks. Show some patience. I'll worry about Maybin's future if he can't make any sort of impact as a pass rusher in 2010, but only at that point.