Sean McDermott said that veteran Lorenzo Alexander will serve as the team’s backup middle linebacker, even though he is slated to start alongside Preston Brown. With the trade of Reggie Ragland to the Kansas City Chiefs and subsequent release of Gerald Hodges, the Buffalo Bills cut ties with two of the three players who played middle linebacker for them during the preseason. If Brown were to suffer an injury, it would be Alexander sliding into his role.
While Alexander has proven to be an extremely versatile player over the course of his career (his biography page on profootballreference still lists him as a defensive tackle, for example), one spot he has never played is middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense. Primarily a special teams contributor before last year’s breakout season with Buffalo, Alexander is a very smart, trustworthy player, but he will have a completely different set of responsibilities if forced into action at middle linebacker.
Brown, for his part, has been extremely durable throughout his young career. He has appeared in 48 games for the Bills in three years, making 46 starts. He played 93.8% of the team’s defensive snaps as a rookie in 2014, then followed that up by playing 98.2% in 2015 and 99.4% in 2016. In all three of his professional seasons, he’s led the team in defensive snaps. Coach McDermott is clearly hoping that trend continues in 2017.
Buffalo could also re-sign Hodges at some point, assuming he’s not scooped up elsewhere.