The Buffalo Bills began experimenting a bit with their personnel as their third week of OTAs started. The team shuffled a few parts around on the offensive line, for starters. They also let fifth-year cornerback Leodis McKelvin play in the slot in nickel sets, and he responded with a big day.
BuffaloBills.com reported that McKelvin unofficially had four pass break-ups on the day, including a near-interception. Mark Gaughan provided a play-by-play, and wrote that McKelvin was "all around the ball." CBSSports.com's Mark Ludwiczak opined that McKelvin "had one of his most impressive practices as a Bill."
McKelvin's move to the slot this week was pre-meditated, and he likely got more reps when second-year corner Aaron Williams left practice. (Williams was replaced on the outside by rookie Ron Brooks.)
"We've got a lot of young guys coming along (increasing) the competition level," McKelvin told reporters after practice. "If anything happens on the back end as far me not winning a starting job on the outside, I also could play on the inside.
"Last year I didn't play the nickel," he continued. "I feel like I should be on the field... I know I can play on the field in the nickel situations."
The slot would seem to suit McKelvin's abilities better than the outside role he's been pigeon-holed into in two years playing for Chan Gailey and his coaching staff. McKelvin himself has admitted that his problems in 2011 stemmed from an inability to make plays on jump balls; I'd argue that he's simply not as good with his back to the line of scrimmage as he is moving forward.
He started last season off very well, registering several pass break-ups and an interception on short and intermediate passes in the first three games. When teams figured out how to attack him - i.e. get him further down the football field - that's when his issues cropped up.
In a slot corner role, McKelvin wouldn't be turning and running as often as he would be on the edge; instead, he'd be asked to move laterally and play in shorter zones, which fits his skill set very well. He was bad enough last season that he simply can't be handed that role, but in competition with the likes of Terrence McGee (who seems destined for a slot role in nickel sets when healthy) and Justin Rogers, it gives him the best chance to make an impact on the depth chart and earn his keep.