They were supposed to be two of the leaders on the Buffalo Bills defense.

They were supposed to shut down the opposition’s passing game and help support a suspect run defense.

But the truth is, they’re not and they haven’t, respectively.

Cornerbacks Terrence McGee and Nate Clements have fallen off their pedestals faster than Floyd Landis. They may be the two most overrated players on the Buffalo defense, and that’s saying a lot considering the team also employs Aaron Schobel, London Fletcher and Larry Tripplett.

Buffalo’s secondary was thought to be a question mark because rookies Donte Whitner and Ko Simpson were starting at the safety spots, but the exact opposite has been true: Clements and McGee have left the team searching for answers.

Asked after the game how just two Detroit players — wide receiver Roy Williams and running back Kevin Jones — could combine for more than 300 yards, McGee couldn’t come up with a reason.

“I can’t even tell you, they just did a good job (Sunday),” he said.

Those who have watched the first six games of 2006 are similarly searching for reasons McGee’s play has slipped considerably. He was torched by Bernard Berrian in a Week 5 loss at Chicago and the Lions apparently took good notes. Roy Williams lined up across from McGee more often than not Sunday on his way to a career-high 161 yards receiving.

“He made some plays today,” McGee said after the game.

It wasn’t as if McGee was the only one to get beaten by Williams. Clements, Buffalo’s franchise player, couldn’t make a stop when he was lined up across from the Detroit wideout, either.

That’s been the norm for Clements against big-play receivers the past two seasons. It’s no surprise, then, that the Ohio State product’s been rumored to be on the trade market. The trade deadline is today, however, and it’s unlikely any team would trade for Clements without first negotiating a contract with the unrestricted free-agent-to-be.

Clements would undoubtedly like to hit the jackpot in free agency, but if he plays this way in a contract year, I feel bad for the team that makes him even more rich and gives him less incentive to play hard.

It’s an odd career path for a player whose career was off to such a promising start. Like McGee, Clements’ performance is also perplexing.

But whatever the reason, the fact remains the same: The Bills need their All-Pro cornerbacks to play like it. That hasn’t happened yet.

Contact Jay Skurski at 693-1000, Ext. 117.

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