Niagara Gazette


June 14, 2009

BILLS: Florence’s role with Buffalo in flux

ORCHARD PARK — If the NFL season started in June, cornerback Drayton Florence would likely start for the Buffalo Bills.

When the games do get under way in September, it’s possible Florence will no longer be on the roster.

Florence, 28, a former second-round pick of the San Diego Chargers, signed with the Bills in March, following a disappointing 2008 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

With fellow cornerbacks Terrence McGee, Leodis McKelvin, and Ashton Youboty injured at various points during the Bills recently completed offseason program, Florence spent much of the time practicing with the starting unit.

Only McGee is locked into his role as the team’s No. 1 corner. Right now, Florence seems to be competing with McKelvin, and his first-round draft status, to start opposite McGee. Youboty could also be in the mix.

Defensive backs coach George Catavolos said Florence will also see practice as a nickel corner during training camp. Second-year player Reggie Corner was impressive in that role during offseason practices, and Youboty was the nickel corner at the start of last season.

“You always go into a new team trying to compete for a starting spot, no matter what the situation is,” Florence said. “I feel pretty good. I’m catching on to everything they’re throwing at me, getting adjusted to the teammates I’m playing with back in the secondary.”

“Drayton is athletic, he is smart, he’s been around the game a long time, he’s a hard worker, and he understands the game,” Catavolos said. “Right now he has to learn our system and be a little bit more consistent in what we ask as far as our techniques. But we’re happy to have him.”

After starting 43 games in his first five seasons with the Chargers, the 6-foot, 195-pound Florence signed a lucrative free agent contract with Jacksonville last spring. But he fell out of the starting lineup by season’s end, and the Jaguars decided they did not want a nickel cornerback with a contract averaging about $6 million per year.

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