Kawika doesn't like the 'P' word

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills linebacker Kawika Mitchell doesn't want to hear about how good their defense can be.

"Potential," Mitchell said, "is like a cuss word to me."

The concept of making colossal strides, however, must not be too vile for Mitchell. After all, he won the Super Bowl with the New York Giants last season and then signed a free-agent contract with the Bills, owners of the AFC's worst defense a year ago.

Unless he's the type to chase a paycheck, he wouldn't have dared to join a team without the potential to be great, right?

"I knew it was a young group," Mitchell said as he unwound his hand wraps after Monday night's soggy practice at St. John Fisher College. "Things are moving along pretty well. We're coming together.

"We've got to have more people emerge as leaders. We've got to see how we face adversity."

The Bills gave up an average of 362.9 yards a game. Only the Detroit Lions yielded more.

A renovation was in order. The Bills made signing Mitchell a high priority. They also landed defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and Spencer Johnson.

The return of middle linebacker Paul Posluszny from a broken forearm in Week 3 is almost like an offseason acquisition. The defensive backfield is young but possesses gobs of that word Mitchell hates.

Mitchell sees similarities in the Bills' defense and the one he won a ring with in February.

"We had some tried veterans on that team last year with Michael Strahan and Antonio Pierce and myself. We have them here, too," Mitchell said. "We have [Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron] Schobel. We have [defensive end Chris] Kelsay. We have [linebacker Angelo] Crowell. We have Stroud and myself.

"We do have a lot of good depth, but we've got to see how we handle that adversity. There's going to be tough times."

Another similarity? Mitchell senses Buffalo's defense is being taken lightly.

"I like it that way," he said. "Nobody gave us respect last year, so I prefer nobody even mention our name. If we can sneak up on everybody every single time we play them, that'd be fine with me."