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Buffalo Bills CB Christian Benford impresses during practice Wednesday

A diamond in the small-school rough, Benford continues to shine against the Bills’ best, and amid team-wide intensity

Buffalo Bills vs Cleveland Browns Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It was business as usual for the Buffalo Bills during Wednesday’s practice, which included yet another round of intense chatter to end the session. While it may appear negative to those outside the building, intensity in practice is a good thing — and it’s anything but new news. We just see it reported a lot more in today’s media.

The players are ready to move on from preseason routines, and many guys are fighting for a chance to have their next move be the one that keeps them in Orchard Park, NY.

Perhaps lost among the continued intensity has been the standout play by second-year cornerback Christian Benford. As Bills Beat and Sideline Reporter Sal Capaccio shared in his wrap-up of today’s practice:

“Cornerback Christian Benford, still fighting for a starting job, had a particularly impressive practice. It started in one-on-one drills when he did a great job to stick with Diggs and knock the ball away as it arrived. Later, Benford had another impressive pass breakup in 11-on-11, then got into the backfield on a blitz which forced a quick throw and incompletion.

Later, during a two minute drill, Josh Allen threw a ball deep to where he thought Gabe Davis was running his route. But Benford’s tight coverage forced Davis to cut it short and the ball sailed over both of their heads.”

The more we learn about Benford, the better things sound. Since entering the NFL last April as a sixth-round pick of the Bills, no task has been too much for Benford. Any athletic limitation he’s been saddled with seems to disappear when discussions about his on-field play begins. That’s especially true of his talent as a zone defender. It turns out, selling Benford only as a zone-cover defensive back may be a conversation cut too short. As Capaccio notes, Benford once again showed his ability in man coverage, during one-on-one drills against Stefon Diggs, and then again later forcing an incomplete pass from Allen to Davis.

Much of the CB2 discussion this offseason has revolved around Kaiir Elam, and whether or not he can once-and-for-all claim the starting job. But Elam’s efforts to this point in camp and practice have not allowed him to separate from Benford or Dane Jackson.

Many want Elam to win the role given his draft status, but also to unseat Jackson. But shouldn’t the real goal here be wanting to see the best player win, regardless of the round in which they were drafted?

For all we know, the job is still Dane Jackson’s to lose. A player in the mold of Levi Wallace, Jackson just continues to play sound-enough defense, zone or man. It appears, however, that Benford intends to remind people of his talents. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if he’s an oft-featured, integral part to the Bills’ defensive backfield plans in 2023.