|Bills Pro Bowl DE Schobel quietly establishing himself as sack master|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 15 August 2007 10:52|
Put him in a room filled with Pro Bowl selections, and the Buffalo Bills defensive end turns into a wallflower.
``I don't like to meet new people very fast. I like to observe,'' Schobel said, recalling how shy he was during his first trip to Hawaii in February for the NFL's annual all-star game. ``It was sort of like being a rookie. You don't say much when you don't have to.''
Informed of Schobel's account, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell burst into laughter, picturing what must have been a fish-out-of-water experience for the introverted Texas farm kid thrust into an exotic setting.
``Yeah, he's an interesting cat,'' Fewell said. ``He's definitely not going to win any awards for public speaking.''
Not that anyone's complaining. Schobel isn't paid for what he says.
Entering his seventh season, he has quietly established himself as one of the league's top pass-rushers.
He's coming off a career year in which he finished third in the league with 14 sacks. That tied him with Bruce Smith for the fourth-highest single-season total by a Bills player and marked the third time Schobel has produced 10 or more.
With 60 1/2 career sacks, Schobel ranks third in team history - one behind Phil Hansen - and is one of just 15 active NFL players (including Giants holdout Michael Strahan) with that many. Since 2003, only Miami's Jason Taylor, with 48 sacks, has had more than Schobel's 45 1/2.
The test for Schobel is showing he can consistently produce. It won't be easy considering he's the lone established star left on a young defense that lost three starters over the offseason. Schobel will attract even more attention from opposing teams attempting to stop him.
``I think I've been steady, but can I do it after people come scheme me?'' Schobel said. ``There's a lot of guys that have done it once. But when you do it two, three, four times, that's when you're doing something.''
Buffalo's second-round pick in the 2001 draft, Schobel has proven tough to stop dating to his days at TCU, where he set a school record with 10 sacks as a junior.
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 262 pounds, Schobel is big but also rangy - attributes that have allowed him to develop a wide array of moves. He's also put together a book on opposing linemen to better understand their weaknesses.
Schobel said he approaches his job like a pitcher would in baseball.
``You've got to change up your game,'' he said. ``That's what I've learned over the years. You can't always speed rush. You can't always bull rush. And as long as I'm athletic enough, I think I'll get better every year.''
Fewell acknowledged having difficulty understanding what makes Schobel tick.
``Boy, I wish I could answer that,'' he said.
``I look at the guy in practice and go, `OK, Aaron Schobel,''' Fewell added, shrugging his shoulders, unimpressed. ``And then on game day, he's lights out.''
It was during a recent practice that Fewell got a better understanding of his star player.
``One of the guys used a move that Aaron uses, and I looked to Aaron and said, `Hey, he used your move,''' Fewell recalled. ``He said, `Yeah, but he didn't do this.' So I think he has all the little details down in his head of how he likes to set up an opponent. He really executes that plan each week.''
Fewell wondered whether Schobel's quiet, observant nature is one of his strengths, giving him the ability to sit back and analyze situations rather than jumping right in.
``I think that's part of his edge,'' Fewell said. ``He's going to use that as a defensive mechanism so he can exert himself on game days.''