Since Dick Jauron took over as the head coach in Buffalo, the Bills defense has played well but has been a unit made up of few individual stars. One player that’s about to end that trend this season is starting middle linebacker Paul Posluszny.
Posluszny is entering his third season as the Bills' starting middle linebacker. After being selected by Buffalo with the 34th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Jauron named Posluszny the starter in training camp and he’s been the Bills' man in the middle ever since.
I worked for the New England Patriots the year Posluszny was drafted and it’s interesting to note how different teams viewed him coming out of Penn State.
I know for a fact that Bill Belichick and the Patriots had Posluszny rated as a priority free agent, which is to say he wasn’t even on New England’s draft board.
Granted, the Patriots and Bills run different defensive schemes and aren’t looking for the same kind of players to inject into their systems, but it’s intriguing to see how one player can be valued so differently by two NFL scouting departments.
Posluszny was off to a strong rookie campaign before he broke his forearm against those very same Patriots in the third game of the year, ending his season. I was in the Bills' locker room after that game and Posluszny was visibly upset over his injury.
You could see he was a leader even as a rookie and his teammates rallied around him, inspired by his fiery reaction to the injury. One defensive player said “that kid has a lot of heart,” responding to Posluszny's declaration that he would be on the field the following week, even with a broken forearm.
Posluszny bounced back in a big way last season, recording 110 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble, while earning Team MVP honors. Posluszny had six games with at least eight stops and showed a knack for always being around the football.
One big reason to be excited about Posluszny in 2009 is the fact that Buffalo went out and acquired defensive tackle Marcus Stroud last year. The addition of Stroud was huge for Posluszny and there is no reason to believe that won’t continue this season.
Posluszny isn’t a guy who is going to make his living taking on guards and tackles, but with Stroud in the middle of the defense eating up two or three blockers at a time, Posluszny is free to do what he does best; use his speed and quickness to chase down ball carriers. Expect to see him doing that in the neighborhood of 150 times this season.
Posluszny’s idol growing up was former Bills' great Shane Conlan. Posluszny and Conlan both went to Penn State and both wore the No. 51. Then Posluszny and Conlan were both drafted by the same NFL team.
Finally, it appears as if Posluszny’s career path is going to end up in the same place as his idol when he is selected to the Pro Bowl at year’s end.
Yes, a star will be born on the Bills defense in 2009 and his name is Paul Posluszny.