Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Friday, November 7, 2008
Snapshot: Buffalo's crumpled secondary


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

The Buffalo Bills placed slot cornerback Ashton Youboty on injured reserve Friday, giving them one fewer defensive back for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium.

The Bills' secondary is hurting something fierce. Strong safety and captain Donte Whitner, who also had been filling in for Youboty in the slot, is out with a separated shoulder. Right cornerback Terrence McGee isn't quite 100 percent recovered from his sprained knee.

Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel and his targets, especially slot receiver Wes Welker, couldn't be happier. Welker has caught at least six passes in every game this year. The only other receiver in NFL history to have done that is Jimmy Smith for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2001.

Here is what the Patriots should expect to face Sunday.

Strong safety: Bryan Scott.
The sixth-year pro has played in every game, starting two at free safety. Scott has one sack. He was the Atlanta Falcons' starter in 2004 and 2005.

The hard-hitting Whitner has 37 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles. He could be out a few weeks.

Free safety: Ko Simpson.
He temporarily lost his job to Scott because he wasn't playing up to snuff. Simpson started 15 games as a rookie in 2006, but suffered a season-ending leg injury in last year's opener. He has 30 tackles.

Slot cornerback: Reggie Corner.
The fourth-round draft choice worked at this position almost exclusively in training camp and preseason, while 11th overall selection Leodis McKelvin worked on the outside. Corner was inactive the first four games.

That Whitner filled this role when Youboty couldn't play doesn't speak well of where McKelvin is in his development. For perspective, the Patriots drafted linebacker Jerod Mayo with the 10th overall pick. Mayo has been an every-down player from the hop.

Right cornerback: McGee.
Sunday will be McGee's third game back after missing two with a sprained knee. He looked like a burnt matchstick after Miami Dolphins receiver Ted Ginn got through with him, but McGee played more press coverage in last week's loss to the New York Jets. That's a good sign. The Pro Bowl returner has 26 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defensed.

Left cornerback: Jabari Greer.
Greer is the only Bills defensive back to start every game. He has 34 tackles, two interceptions (both for touchdowns) and a team-high seven passes defensed.

The Bills drafted McKelvin and Corner and signed free-agent Will James because they didn't think they were strong enough at Greer's position, but Greer fended off all challengers in camp.