DE Anderson doesn't mind being Bills 'Other Guy'
PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP)
It's no knock to be overshadowed by fellow defensive end Mario Williams. At 6-foot-6, 292 pounds, Williams has both the size and the six-year $100 million contract to have captured a majority of the attention in Buffalo.
''You're going to have your star players, and you're going to have your role players,'' said Anderson, who signed a comparatively modest four-year, $27 million contract a week after the Bills landed Williams in March. ''I'm just trying to fit in.''
And the 6-4, 255-pound Anderson doesn't even mind when Williams playfully called him ''little dude,'' in June.
Where Anderson does draw the line is when Williams suggested there's already a pecking order in place on who will lead the Bills in sacks this season.
''We've already talked about it, and (Anderson) knows he's going to be behind me no matter what I get,'' Williams said with a wink.
Not so fast.
''We'll see when it's all said and done,'' Anderson responded with a smile.
Friendly as the banter is between two defensive ends who spent part of the 2010 season playing together in Houston, the competition for who leads the Bills (No. 19 in the AP Pro32) in sacks should merit watching. It's a competition between two proven pass-rushers who have 88 1/2 career sacks between them (Williams leads with 53).
And Anderson's not ready to give in, because he has the chance to benefit from being the so-called other guy. If opposing offenses commit more attention to stopping Williams on left side, then Anderson's job should be much easier on the right side.
Anderson is part of a revamped line put together this offseason with a focus on pressuring opposing quarterbacks, an area in which the Bills have lacked for much of the past five years. Though Williams was the Bills' prime target in free agency, Anderson was the second defensive player on their wish list.
''Let me tell you, he may be forgotten by the public or by the press, but he's not forgotten by our football team or us as coaches, I can promise you that,'' coach Chan Gailey said. ''We were fortunate to get him and really glad to have him. He's going to be a big, big part of our defense.''
The sixth-year player drew attention after regaining his form with a 10-sack season in New England last year. It was the second-best total of Anderson's career, after the former fifth-round pick out Alabama had 12 sacks in 2006 to set the Chicago Bears rookie record.
Anderson struggled finding his niche from 2007-10. It's a stretch in which he managed just 13 1/2 sacks, and had the Bears terminate his contract four games into the 2010 season. After finishing the with Houston, he then signed a one-year deal to join the Patriots.
''Last year was important, but I try not to think about last year,'' Anderson said. ''This is a fresh year, a fresh start. I'm here with the Bills and I'm trying to stay focused and get to the main goal.''
The Bills have the potential to be a good fit for Anderson. He'll be joined on a line that features defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus, two players who are also capable of disrupting opposing offenses.
A week into training camp, Anderson has shown a quick burst off the line, and an assortment of moves to beat opponents on both the inside and outside. He's regarded as having an unorthodox style that relies more on quickness than raw strength.
''He's quicker than most,'' starting left guard Andy Levitre said of Anderson. ''If you can't react to that, you're going to get beat.''
Anderson's athleticism has always been apparent, and particularly evident during the NFL rookie combine in 2006. That's when his vertical leap was measured at 42 inches, among the highest in recent memory among defensive ends.
It's not lost on Anderson that his vertical was an inch-and-a-half better than Williams, who went on to become the first player selected in the 2006 draft.
Anderson's made sure to remind Williams about it when the two got to Buffalo.
''We had a little side bet, and he's mad because I beat him,'' he said. Anderson then added with a laugh: ''Now he tries to blast me, talking about me being the little guy.''
Score one for the other guy.
NOTES: WR Stevie Johnson practiced on a limited basis Friday after experiencing tightness in his groin. Gailey downplayed the injury calling it minor. ... LB Kelvin Sheppard returned after missing two days with an undisclosed injury. ... The Bills will practice Saturday before taking a day off. They then return to camp for two days before preparing to host Washington in their preseason opener on Thursday.
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