In consecutive offseasons, the Buffalo Bills have been faced with replacing a starting safety that left via free agency. One of the team's defensive back coaches, Donnie Henderson, doesn't believe he'll have much trouble finding a running mate for Aaron Williams this summer, despite continued questions about that position from media types.
"Oh, well heck, I think I’m pretty good at the other one too with Duke Williams sitting there getting his opportunity," Henderson told WGR 550's The Howard Simon Show on Wednesday morning. "He’s a kid that’s been in this program three years now himself. The last two years I’ve sent some safeties out of here with a lot of money, so he’s looking at it the same way - he’s ready to go get him some money."
The two safeties that Henderson refers to, of course, are Jairus Byrd and Da'Norris Searcy. Byrd signed a six-year, $54 million free agent deal with New Orleans (with $26.3 million guaranteed) last spring, and Searcy replaced him as the nominal starter last season (though Duke Williams saw a large chunk of snaps, as well). A strong 2014 campaign ultimately led to Searcy's four-year, $24 million deal in Tennessee that guarantees him $10.5 million.
Now, despite the fact that beat reporters and fans continue to question whether or not Williams can hold off far less experienced competition for the starting gig, Williams is the recipient of a fairly significant vote of confidence from Buffalo's respected, veteran defensive backs coach.
"I tell you what, he might be a little bit more athletic than (Byrd and Searcy), to be honest with you," Henderson said of Williams. "His thing is, he likes to come downhill and hit people. The biggest thing that’s going to be with him is reps. I hate using that word - really, for me, it’s more playing time; people talk about reps, they can be mental or physical - but I think he just needs to play."
Time will tell if the Bills do ultimately open that spot up to serious competition, but from the sounds of things, the Bills will be an all-Williams outfit at safety in 2015.