PITTSFORD — Now that he’s back on the practice field, Paul Posluszny can get back to practicing his new position.
The Buffalo Bills’ starting middle linebacker in the Tampa 2-style 4-3 defense the past three seasons, Posluszny is still picking up the nuances of playing inside in the 3-4.
For the first 10 days of training camp, Posluszny was limited to playbook study and observation from the sidelines as he recovered from minor groin surgery. On Monday, Posluszny participated in individual and 7-on-7 drills during the morning practice.
“It felt good just to be out there running around with the guys,” Posluszny said. “I didn’t do much ... but it felt good just to see some routes develop, react a little bit and see the world through the face mask again.”
Posluszny isn’t sure if he will play in Friday’s preseason opener, but he’s “getting close to 100 percent,” and certain he’ll be ready for the first regular season game on Sept. 12.
“By the time we play Miami, we won’t even worry about this,” Posluszny said.
By that time, Posluszny also hopes to be fully acclimated to a defensive alignment he’s never experienced before. At Penn State, he played in a scheme with four linebackers on the field, but one of them always lined up as a defensive end, and Posluszny’s responsibilities were similar to what he’d take on in his first few years with the Bills.
When he heard that new defensive coordinator George Edwards would be implementing the 3-4, Posluszny had visions of filling run gaps and smashing into unencumbered guards on every play.
“So far that hasn’t been the case,” Posluszny said. “We are a 3-4 team but we’re going to do a lot of stuff with our front to switch things up and bury things.”
Posluszny, who has shorn off his shoulder-length locks because of a summer internship — “I had to go corporate for a little bit,” he said — will have more varied pass coverage duties in the new scheme.
“Last year were so much of a strictly zone team,” he said. “We would get to a spot on the field and read the quarterback. This year, we are going to do a lot more stuff with man coverage, quarters coverage, a lot more stuff where we’re going to be matching the routes of the offense as opposed to dropping back in the zone and breaking on the ball.”
The groin injury limited Posluszny’s weight training heading into camp. He said he’s at 238 pounds right now, and wants to be a bit heavier when the season starts.
“The closer I can get to 242, the better,” he said. “I want to make sure I have the proper size to do everything I need to do in this defense.”
Keith Ellison (undisclosed injury) also practiced Monday for the first time since camp began, working at inside linebacker with the reserve unit. Coach Chan Gailey said Ellison is more likely to play on Friday than Posluszny.
Roscoe Parrish sat out the morning practice but was a full participant in the evening. He had missed two days of practice with a leg injury and an illness. In the first practice, Chad Jackson got Parrish’s reps in the slot.
As three players came off the injured list, three more were knocked out of the morning practice.
Fullback Corey McIntyre hurt his left leg while blocking on a running play, and receiver Felton Huggins hurt is left shoulder while diving to catch a pass.
Gailey said Huggins “hurt his shoulder pretty bad” and that McIntyre’s injury is “minor.” McIntyre was riding a stationary bike during the night practice.
Guard Andre Ramsey left the morning practice early but was able to practice later.
Right tackle Cornell Green missed both practices because of the right leg injury he sustained Saturday, and was replaced in the starting five by Kirk Chambers.
With left tackle Demetrius Bell given the morning off to rest and right guard Eric Wood excused from 11 on 11 drills, Jamon Meredith and undrafted rookie Cordaro Howard filled in on the first team.
Rookie defensive end Alex Carrington got reps with the starters in the morning while Marcus Stroud rested, as did rookie linebacker Arthur Moats, in place of Posluszny and Kawika Mitchell. Stroud and Mitchell both took part in the night practice.
Rookie running back C.J. Spiller got two reps with the first team during 11 on 11 drills in the night practice. On one pass play, he lined up in a two-back set with Marshawn Lynch.
Spiller was also the first player to field a kickoff during special teams drills. He lined up alongside Jackson, bumping Leodis McKelvin to the second unit.
The team practiced through steady rain in the evening.
“It was really good,” Gailey said. “We needed the wet ball, we needed to be able to handle it, and throw it, and catch it.”
Today’s practice will start at 3:15 p.m., 15 minutes later than originally scheduled. Wednesday night’s sold out practice will start at 7:15.