We are 3 weeks away from the opening of the 2018 NFL season with the beginning of training camp! Here at Banged Up Bills, I have been trying to stay cool and sane despite the excessive heat and lack of football. Today’s post will finish up the injuries on the defensive side of the ball at the safety position. The secondary overall was an incredibly strong position for the Bills this past season and going into the 2018 season, this does not appear to change.
Stepping up first for review is S Jordan Poyer. The transplant from Cleveland spent the first 4 seasons mostly with Cleveland along with a cup of coffee in Philadelphia before signing a free agent deal with the Bills in 2017. He rewarded the Bills handsomely with 5 interceptions with one TD, one fumble recovery, 2 sacks along with 95 total tackles 63 solo and 32 assisted. These are fantastic stats for a player that Cleveland did not want back. In addition to his versatile abilities on the field, Poyer was able to stay relatively healthy, appearing in 15 games, missing only the Raiders game with a knee injury. He was incredibly durable this season despite the high injury risks that the position comes with. As Poyer is a veteran, he understands how to take care of his body and prepare for each game. Expect another standout year from Poyer!
Next up is S Micah Hyde who was also a castoff from the Green Bay Packers after 4 years. The dynamic play maker appeared in all 16 games producing 5 interceptions along with 82 total tackles, 65 solo and 17 assisted. The 5th year veteran has also been incredibly durable during his time in the league, rarely missing any games which demonstrate why this coaching staff values Hyde so highly. Despite Hyde not missing any time, he also dealt with several minor knee injuries that limited his play at times but did not signify any longer term issues. Similar to Poyer, expect Hyde to continue to prepare like a veteran and come ready to play every week.
Another player who saw time at the safety position this year was S Shamarko Thomas. The 5th year veteran saw action in 12 games but did not record any defensive statistics, making the most of his playing time on special teams. As he did not see many defensive snaps, he was able to avoid injury. Thomas finds himself a free agent going into the 2018 season and could be a candidate to come back at a veteran minimum but that is most likely the reason he was not retained as he became cost prohibitive.
Rounding out players who saw playing time at safety is S Colt Anderson. The oft-injured safety was used more frequently as a special teams ace in years past but his time in Buffalo was forgettable. In 2 years, he appeared in 7 games and not recording any defensive statistics. He had dealt with hand, foot, and forearm injury which cost him significant playing time. This past year, a broken forearm cost him 11 games and when he finally returned, was largely ineffective. As one may guess, he was not re-signed to the team going into the 2018 season. After the multitude of injuries over his career, he may see fit to hang it up rather than try to find another team due to his lack of availability. I do not even envision him coming back as a camp body in any fashion. My final thought on Anderson, he was a holdover from the Rex Ryan staff, I do not understand what the Bills saw in him as he was unable to stay healthy.
As for new personnel, there are many new faces coming into the secondary with the addition of S Dean Marlowe, S Kelcie McCray, S LJ McCray via the practice squad this past season. In addition, S Rafael Bush was brought in via free agency; a more detailed report can be found here. Finally, the Bills brought in S Siran Neal via a 5th round pick who could project to be a top backup with a strong training camp performance.
While this group is veteran heavy with Poyer and Hyde, they will need Bush and Neal to step up and provide effective depth as it is difficult to totally avoid injuries. With strong training camps, Marlowe, McCray & McCray can step up and add another dimension to the already strong unit. This is a position group I do not worry about due to the talent level, but could drastically change with a serious injury.
Continue to check back at Banged Up Bills for training camp content, injury reviews, and any other breaking news to come out of One Bills Drive. Follow Banged Up Bills on Facebook and on Twitter @BangedUpBills. Feel free to contact me with any questions or content you would like to see. As always, thank you for reading and GO BILLS!!