And those weren’t flukes. Rookies Donte Whitner, Ko Simpson, Brad Butler and Keith Ellison also started games that season. In 2007, Marshawn Lynch was in the opening day lineup, as was Paul Posluszny. It wasn’t long until Trent Edwards joined them.
But this year, rookies made virtually no impact on opening day. Outside of Hardy, it’s doubtful they will. McKelvin might be a dynamic return man, but he’s nowhere near ready to play corner in the NFL, as his faux pas in the Indy preseason game clearly demonstrated.
Chris Ellis, Reggie Corner and Demetrius Bell were inactive for week one. Alvin Bowen is out for the season. Derek Fine is back in practice, but he’s not more than a special teamer this season.
Is this a sign of poor drafting?
Maybe, although I’m not buying it. I’m guessing it’s the handiwork of gone-but-not-forgotten Marv Levy starting to pay off. The Bills needed to start by rebuilding their offensive and defensive lines, and have done so. They desperately needed depth and found that, too.
And they’ve raised the expectations for each and every one of their 53 roster spots along the way.
Good teams don’t play guys who’ve yet to sell their books back to the bookstore.
It remains to be seen if the Bills are indeed a good team. But a lack of inexperience in the starting lineup proves they’re heading in the right direction.
Contact sports editor Tim Schmitt at 282-2311, ext. 2266.