The Bills finished 2008 with several games recording zero or only one sack.
A major reason for the Bills' inability to get to the quarterback was the injury to Aaron Schobel. The two-time Pro Bowler, who went off in 2005 and 2006 with 12 and 14 sacks respectively, spent 11 games on the sideline last year because of a sprained left toe ligament.
This week’s OTAs marked Schobel’s first time back on the field since the injury.
“I’m just glad I got this week done, and I felt I made it through feeling good. That was the main thing,” Schobel said Wednesday after the Bills completed a three-day voluntary minicamp. “I think it's one step at a time.”
In Schobel’s absence, the Bills were unable to find consistency on the defensive end position, receiving only seven sacks combined from Ryan Denney, Chris Kelsey, Copeland Bryan, Chris Ellis, and Corey Mace.
To address that, the Bills also went out and drafted Aaron Maybin in the first round. The other Aaron looks to provide an immediate spark to this Bills defense with his quick step, which got him 12 sacks in his first year at Penn State.
Although he is inexperienced, with only two years of collegiate play under his belt, the Bills have said that they plan to put him in sporadically when they need an increased pass rush, so he should definitely help Schobel on the other end.
Questions have been asked as to whether or not Schobel can return to his Pro Bowl form after the injury.
“I feel I’ve still got the speed I’ve always had and the quickness I’ve had,” Schobel said. “The only thing that feels different for me from three, four years ago, is that it takes a little longer to get loose. But once I’m loose, I’m the same as always.”
The Bills need all the pass rush they can get considering the quarterbacks they will face this year are among the NFL’s elite. They will face Tom Brady (twice), Drew Brees, Derek Anderson, and Jake Delhomme, just to name a few.
If they can get more sacks, the success will trickle to the other defensive positions, resulting in more turnovers, fewer points allowed, and putting the offense in a better position to score.