Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/22/13
There will be ample opportunities for young players to make a name for themselves on defense for the Buffalo Bills in the 2013 season. When the team jettisoned veterans Nick Barnett, Kelvin Sheppard, George Wilson and Terrence McGee in the offseason, it lost its three leading tacklers from last season, along with 385 combined games of NFL experience. If the inexperience of those taking their place is a concern among the team’s fans, it doesn’t seem to be one shared by new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. At least not publicly. “It is a lot, and that was on purpose,” Pettine said of the workload he gave his players in spring practices. “I think as a coaching staff, we’re very optimistic with how this group learns. We’ve been able to handle a lot. “What proves it even more is the up tempo. When an offense goes no-huddle, you don’t have those 15, 20 seconds in between plays to process and recall ‘what’s my job? What are my main coaching points here?’ You’ve got to know it, and I think our guys have really taken that to heart. I’m very pleased with where we are mentally.” Rookie second-round draft pick Kiko Alonso has the inside track heading into training camp on replacing Barnett, who led the Bills with 112 tackles last season and played about 92 percent of the defensive snaps. Both Pettine and coach Doug Marrone have been pleased with Alonso’s development. “I think Kiko has done an outstanding job, he really has,” Marrone said. “There’s been a little bit of ups and downs, but that’s not a knock on him. That’s what happens with young players. I’m extremely excited to see him perform when the pads come on.” Assuming Alonso fills the role of an every-down linebacker, the question will be who joins him when the Bills go to a nickel (five defensive backs) formation, which Pettine has hinted could essentially serve as the Bills’ base defense. The two favorites are second-year man Nigel Bradham and veteran Bryan Scott.
The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Sixers rookie Ben Simmons has fracture in foot

Olympic wrestler turned ISIS recruit killed in U.S. drone strike

Report: Jamaal Charles to play Sunday against Steelers

Dez Bryant says he will not play Sunday against 49ers

Bill O’Brien officially rules J.J. Watt out for season


Report: Eric Decker out Sunday with partial tear in rotator cuff

Report: Browns planning to part ways with Josh Gordon

Noah skips dinner at West Point because he's anti-war

Giants could use wide receiver at safety against Vikings

Ryan Tannehill does not mince words regarding offense

Russell Wilson on playing Sunday against Jets: ‘No doubt’

WATCH: Is it time for the Jaguars to fire Gus Bradley?

Combing through the crowded 2016 MLB MVP races

The Blue Jays and the meaning of a late season freefall

CFB Crash Course: Week 5 - Less one Les

Box Score: 9/30 - Dolphins, Popovich and MLB umps

Seven most absurd stats heading into NFL Week 4

Antonio Brown to honor Arnold Palmer with custom cleats

The best and worst from the 2016 World Cup of Hockey

Players Jurgen Klinsmann may call up for USMNT friendlies

Byron Scott has no relationship with D’Angelo Russell

Steve Kerr favors shorter NBA preseason to limit back-to-backs

Flaws of MLB replay system exposed in Cardinals’ victory

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Is it time for the Jaguars to fire Gus Bradley?

Combing through the crowded 2016 MLB MVP races

The Blue Jays and the meaning of a late season freefall

CFB Crash Course: Week 5 - Less one Les

NBA winners and losers: Gregg Popovich as a voice of reason

WATCH: Will LSU have to sell its soul to find its next head coach?

The clubhouse leaders for MLB Rookies of the Year

Goodbye, Ted: 20 years of highs and lows at Turner Field

Forza Horizon 3 review: Going Top Gear

NFL Kickoff Week 4: Guess what? The NFL is dying again

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker