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.
Marcus Dowtin was signed by the Bills on April 12 as the team was looking to acquire an athletic and versatile linebacker as insurance prior to the 2013 NFL Draft. Dowtin entered the league as an undrafted free agent, signing with the New York Jets following the 2012 NFL draft, where he became acclimated with now-Bills' defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and his scheme.
Dowtin had a productive college career at Georgia and North Alabama, where he accumulated 229 tackles, 20.5 of which came for a loss, 4.5 sacks and forced seven fumbles while playing inside linebacker and weak-side linebacker.
Weighing 226 pounds, Dowtin is a bit undersized, but has a lean and rocked up frame. His athleticism and safety-like coverage ability should prove to be an asset in passing situations when the Bills utilize their nickel package.
With many teams turning to "hybrid" defenses due to the rising popularity in passing offenses, smaller, athletic linebackers like Dowtin that can serve not only at outside linebacker, but also as a third "safety" are becoming increasingly valuable.
Dowtin has been working with the second team unit behind rookie Kiko Alonso, Nigel Bradham and Bryan Scott, generating quite a bit of buzz throughout the team's off-season training activities. Much praise has come directly from Coach Pettine, who had this to say about him:
"He was primarily an inside linebacker in New York. We've been training him as an outside linebacker here, but he's another player that has some position flexibility. He's athletic enough, he can play inside, he can play outside. He can do some safety type jobs, he can do some defensive end type jobs. Again, that's the type of player that we'll always have a role for in our system, with that amount of versatility."
While Dowtin certainly shouldn't be expected to come out and start, he'll be a situational player that could eventually work his way into significant playing time if he can continue to show progress when training camp begins.