When the Buffalo Bills kicked off their 2012 regular season schedule in Week 1 against the New York Jets, defensive end Kyle Moore was on the team's inactive list, and veteran pass rusher Shawne Merriman was unemployed. Deemed expendable to one extent or another, the players were not a factor for the Bills for most of the season.
That has changed in recent weeks, and the change has been dramatic. Moore was not part of the active roster until injuries at defensive tackle (Spencer Johnson) and end (Mark Anderson, Chris Kelsay) forced him into the lineup, and the 26-year-old USC product has evolved into the team's most consistent pass rusher, recording two sacks over the last three games. He's done that on a defense that features the highest-paid defender in the history of the National Football League, mind you.
Merriman, meanwhile, was almost an afterthought signing when the team brought him back off the street as veteran insurance when Anderson went down with his knee injury. With Kelsay out of the lineup, Merriman has become a platoon end spelling Moore and Mario Williams, and is coming off of a strong performance against Miami wherein he played the run exceedingly well and recorded his second sack since the 2009 season.
Every year, NFL teams riddled by injury have to scrape the bottom of the proverbial barrel to fill out roster space; the vast majority of the time, this yields warm bodies that have no future with the team. In the case of Moore - once deemed expendable by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who cut him) and the Detroit Lions (who left him on the practice squad), too - the Bills appear to have found a keeper. If Merriman keeps playing at this level, he may transcend the "warm body" role he was originally signed to fill, as well.