|Bills DT Stroud can still pack a wallop|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 31 July 2008 22:42|
Just ask Buffalo Bills right guard Brad Butler, who found out the hard way after being bowled over by the hard-charging defensive tackle during a one-on-one drill at a recent training camp session.
``Yeah, he pancaked me,'' Butler said, impressed. ``I go against him every day in practice, and I haven't seen him take one rep off yet.''
That's Stroud's objective. Acquired by Buffalo in a trade with Jacksonville in March, the seven-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowl selection is eager to show everyone - particularly Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio - that he hasn't lost a step.
``I heard coach make a comment one time last year that I probably would never be the player that I was,'' Stroud said. ``I don't hold grudges, but I store it in my mental bank and use it as motivation. Like I was always told when I was young: `One man's trash is another man's treasure.' So, hopefully, I can come up here and be a gem in Buffalo.''
Stroud, the highest-profile addition to the Bills this offseason, was brought in to anchor a defensive line that was porous against the run last season and unable to provide consistent pass pressure. The Bills finished 31st in yards allowed, and five times gave up at least 170 yards rushing.
Stroud is a former first-round draft pick out of Georgia and, when healthy, has been among the league's dominant defensive tackles. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, he's both big and agile.
The Bills think his presence in the middle can draw more attention from opposing offensive linemen, freeing up defensive end Aaron Schobel to pressure the quarterback.
``He can really change what's going on at the line of scrimmage,'' linebacker Paul Posluszny said. ``To have him up there, we really have a lot of confidence in our defensive line and what they can do now.''
The only question is Stroud's health. Since being selected to his third straight Pro Bowl in 2005, his production has been limited by nagging injuries.
In 2006, Stroud missed five games and eventually had surgery on his right ankle.
Last season, he appeared in only nine games. Stroud missed four while serving an NFL suspension for violating the league's steroids and related substances policy; he acknowledged taking supplements to help recover from the ankle operation. Then, upon his return, Stroud reinjured his ankle and spent the final three games on injured reserve.
Stroud's best seasons came during a three-year stretch from 2002-04, when he registered 260 tackles and 15 1/2 of his career 22 sacks.
Stroud said he's healthy and refreshed, believing the time he missed over the past two seasons has proven beneficial.
``If I can continue to stay healthy, I'm definitely confident that I can make it back,'' he said. ``I've got a lot of good years left in me.''
Finding himself in a new setting also helps.
``I'm definitely happy. It feels good to be anywhere you're wanted,'' Stroud said. ``It's great being a person where people are counting on you.''
As much as he enjoys the focus and welcomes the expectations, Stroud maintains it's not all on him to make this defense better.
``I may be a big piece of the puzzle, but I'm still a piece of the puzzle,'' he said. ``It's not all about Stroud. It's about us.''
He's impressed by what he's seen so far from a unit led by safety Donte Whitner, includes Schobel, and features another veteran newcomer, linebacker Kawika Mitchell, acquired in free agency.
``I just see the talent that we have, it reminds me of the talent we had back in Jacksonville,'' Stroud said. ``We have a chance to be very good.''