Training camp inches closer and closer and the end of season injury reviews near! Today’s review of the safety position will go into the injuries from last season at the safety position, new faces including recent signings & who has the ability to make the roster.
First man up is S Dean Marlowe. The veteran safety has been a mainstay in Sean McDermott’s defense since his days in Carolina. Marlowe’s time in Buffalo has been infrequent, a result of being placed on the practice squad, called up due to injury, cut; rinse and repeat. His stat line is as follows: 2 games with 1 start accumulating 1 pass deflection, 5 total tackles, 4 solo, 1 assisted. As Marlowe has been brought in as needed, he may find himself looking outside following training camp. However, he may be a quick signing based on injury needs as the season progresses.
Next up is S Rafael Bush. The longtime veteran safety has demonstrated an ability to be an effective plug and play piece in the event of injury. His stat line for 2018: 15 games played with 7 starts, 1.5 sacks, 40 total tackles, 30 solo, 15 assisted, 2 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits. Injury wise, he suffered what looked to be an AC sprain or shoulder contusion while attempting to tackle Packers RB Aaron Jones. He did miss the next game as a result but didn’t suffer any further injuries through the year. Bush was slated to come back and compete for a depth spot at the safety position, but retired on July 19th, days before training camp was to begin. Unless he changes his mind, Bush will be walking away on his own terms.
S Siran Neal is the next player assessed during this positional review. The versatile safety out of Jacksonville State saw limited playing time during the 2018 season but made his presence known when he was on the field. Neal appeared in all 16 games with 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack, 11 total tackles with 10 solo, 1 assisted, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 QB hit. In addition, he avoided any known injuries. Neal is a strong candidate to make this roster again and should continue to develop into an excellent depth piece in the event starters go down.
S Jordan Poyer continues to outplay his contract every year since arriving 2 seasons ago and will be due a hefty raise when his contract is up. Poyer has been incredibly durable during his time in Buffalo, only missing 1 game over the last 2 years. Last season, he appeared in all 16 games recording 4 interceptions with 6 pass deflections, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 2 sacks, 100 total tackles with 73 solo, 27 assisted, 9 tackles for loss, and 3 QB hits. Poyer managed to only sustain a right finger injury during the 1st Dolphins game, but did not miss anytime. Poyer will continue to hopefully produce and earn his next contract in a Bills uniform.
Finally, S Micah Hyde rounds out the players returning from last season. Like Poyer, Hyde has also been incredibly durable over the past 2 seasons, missing only one game during that time frame. Stat wise, Hyde appeared and started in 15 games, recording 2 interceptions, 5 pass deflections, 1 fumble recovery, 58 total tackles with 41 solo, 17 assisted, and 1 tackle for loss. Injury wise, Hyde suffered a groin injury while trying to cover TE Jimmy Graham during the 1st quarter in the Packers loss. He simply performed a football move, rotating his hips to keep up with Graham and tweaked the hip adductor. He did miss the next game but was able to come back and play the rest of the season without further complications. Hyde comes back to lock down the other safety position with continued lock down coverage in 2019.
New faces to the team include 6th rd draft pick S Jaquan Johnson and veteran S Kurt Coleman. While Hyde & Poyer are once again occupying the starting spots, there is a lot of talent behind them that can step up on the event one of them go down. It’s likely that Hyde, Poyer, Johnson, Neal, and even Coleman make this roster. Marlowe could be cut but brought back immediately as needed. Overall, the Bills secondary continues to be one of the healthiest & strongest groups on this team to help bring the Bills defense even higher.
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