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Countdown to Bills Camp: The Linebackers

Headlined by rookie linebacker Edmunds, the Bills' linebacker corps needs to step up

July 20, 2018 - 6:31 pm

Derek Kramer

The Buffalo Bills are quickly nearing the start of training camp at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, NY. With camp starting on Thursday, we'll look into each of the main units of the offense and defense. 

Previously: The Secondary

Next up:


The linebackers were a maligned group for large parts of last season, as they often wound up having to absorb blockers in the run game that dissolved into a lower-ranked run defense that finished 29th in yards allowed (1,994) and dead last in touchdowns allowed (22).

Despite their struggles, the linebacking corps still had some promise in, now second-year, outside linebacker Matt Milano, who started five games last year. Lorenzo Alexander will return to shore up the other outside starting spot, while the team also sees other depth pieces in Tanner Vallejo, Ramon Humber and Deon Lacey returning for camp as well. 


Preston Brown has been a serviceable starter in the middle of the field, tied for the league lead in tackles last season with 144. Brown ended up leaving the Bills to head home and sign a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals for $4 million. Brown was the starting middle linebacker for four seasons in Buffalo. 


The Bills moved up from pick No. 22 to No. 16 overall to select Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Edmunds looks poised to become a long-term leader and presence in the linebacking corps for Buffalo, and looks to be an upgrade for the Bills. Edmunds is a speedy and rangy player with size (6' 5", 250-pounds) to help with covering tight ends in pass coverage as well. Many eyes will be on Edmunds to make an immediate impact to improve the defense as a whole. 

The Bills also added Julian Stanford in free agency to address their depth.


The Bills have promise at linebacker.

It starts with Edmunds, the exciting rookie with tons of potential to be a key for the defense for years to come. In addition to Edmunds, Milano poised to be a full-time starter, but questions will rise on whether the 6' 0", 223-pound linebacker can handle the rigors of being a regular starter. If Milano needs help in the rotation, Humber can take snaps for Milano as well, proving he can be a spot starter in Sean McDermott's defense. Alexander continues to impress with his capabilities (15.5 sacks in two years with Buffalo) as his career continues on.

If the starters, especially Edmunds, can stay healthy, expect more from the linebackers and an improvement on their run defense. They'll be able to thank the likes of another new addition, defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, for being able to absorb blocks and clear lanes for the linebackers. 

Up next: the defensive line.

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