Bills top draft pick DE Maybin remains motivated

BY foxsports • December 16, 2009

Aaron Maybin was in the midst of discussing how his rookie season hasn't come close to meeting his objectives when the conversation switched to the Buffalo Bills defensive end's latest hairstyle.

Turning his head slightly, the first-round draft pick showed off how he had shaved into his hair the word ``Mayhem,'' one of the nicknames he picked up as a star pass rusher at Penn State last year. As colorful as it might look, Maybin acknowledged it doesn't exactly match what little disruption he's stirred up on the field in the NFL.

``Obviously not, because I'm not a starter,'' he said after practice Wednesday. ``We'll see once I start playing a little more.''

Maybin's not sure whether that additional playing time will come this season, which is quickly coming to a close. The Bills (4-8) are all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention as they prepare to play at Kansas City (3-9) this weekend.

Maybin is willing to lower his expectations a little for this year. The level of confidence he has in his abilities, though, remains unchanged.

``I'm good,'' he said. ``I'm good enough to produce in this league.''

How good remains to be seen, because Maybin's impact has been negligible so far for a player drafted with the No. 11th pick in April.

He's getting between 10 and 15 plays a game this season, all as a backup, and has been credited with 11 tackles and no sacks. He enjoyed his best game in a 19-13 loss to the New York Jets last week, when he was credited with a season-high three tackles.

Maybin's having a tough time breaking in on a line that features two veteran ends - pass-rushing specialist Aaron Schobel on the right side and Chris Kelsay on the left.

Patience, said Perry Fewell, the Bills' defensive coordinator who's now interim head coach after Dick Jauron was fired last month.

``It took him a while to get going. It took him a while to understand what he wanted and how he wanted it,'' Fewell said. ``It's very tough to play in this league, and I think he will get better and be a topflight pick: Maybe not at the end of this season, but he's going to be a topflight pick for this football team.''

Fewell noted that many defensive ends succeed in college by relying on their speed. That's different at the NFL level, where opposing offensive tackles are quicker and more agile, forcing defensive ends to develop an array of moves.

Maybin has been a raw project since entering the draft with only two years of college playing experience and less than a season as a starter. After sitting out his first year at Penn State as a redshirt freshman, Maybin didn't win the starting job until the third week of last season. He made the most of his limited playing time by leading the Big Ten with 12 sacks and was voted a first team All-American.

There also were questions about Maybin's size. Though he has the prototypical height at 6-foot-4 to play the position, Maybin's 250-pound frame was considered comparatively small by NFL standards.

After being initially confident that his weight wouldn't be a factor, Maybin now noted he might have to bulk up.

He's also open to the possibility of switching to linebacker, which is something Fewell considered last spring.

Those plans, however, changed after Maybin missed most of training camp - 24 practices and three preseason games - while negotiating his rookie contract. He signed three weeks before the start of the regular season.

Maybin dismissed a question about whether the time he missed slowed his development by saying he hasn't had any trouble understanding the Bills playbook.

Maybin also refused to voice any complaints or suggest whether he feels he's done enough to earn more playing time.

``I'm not answering that question. You all must think I'm crazy,'' he said. ``I'm not a coach. I can't answer those questions and I won't try to.''

One thing Maybin did have an answer for is how he intends to reassess his goals and approach next season.

``Our job isn't to sulk about it. Our job is to get better,'' Maybin said. ``Any time you fall short of your expectations, you really don't need any kind of motivation.''

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