Fewell remains upbeat despite overseeing depleted defense Print
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Thursday, 27 September 2007 10:58
NFL Headline News

 ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -Perry Fewell could easily be forgiven if he chose to hide in his office and not answer the phone in fear something else could go wrong with the Buffalo Bills' defense.
Not Fewell, though. That's not the ever-upbeat defensive coordinator's style.
``Actually, it may sound crazy,'' Fewell said, breaking into a laugh. ``I come in excited about the challenge to, No. 1, get a victory because we have an opportunity to win this week.''
Perhaps, it's time to consider nominating Fewell for ``Optimist of The Year'' because, despite expressing some concerns, he remains unfazed by the rash of injuries that have decimated what had already been a young unit. And it's a mere three games into the season.
``Oh, this is one of the highest challenges I've been faced with,'' said Fewell, in his 10th NFL season and second with Buffalo. ``But I can't dwell on numbers. I'm focused on winning games. And I've got to go out and do a better job of teaching. ... And if I can do that, I don't have to worry about the numbers.''
The numbers - statistically and from an injury standpoint - are not pretty as the Bills (0-3) prepare to host the New York Jets on Sunday.
The Bills have three defensive starters on injured reserve and were so thin in a 38-7 loss to New England last weekend that they started four backup defensive backs and, at one point, had reserve safety Bryan Scott filling in at cornerback.
Then there's the linebacking corps, which is minus three regulars, including rookie starter Paul Posluszny, who is out for the season after breaking his forearm last weekend. The latest linebacker shuffle will feature Leon Joe becoming the fifth player to get regular time at the weakside spot this weekend.
``Yeah, it's been quite a roller coaster,'' said Joe, who was signed by Buffalo two weeks ago after he was released by Chicago.
At defensive end, Buffalo has had no experienced depth behind starters Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay all season. That's because Ryan Denney, who broke his foot in August, is out for at least another three weeks, and Anthony Hargrove finishes serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Statistically, the defense has been porous.
It's allowed an average 458 yards per game and can't get opponents off the field. Opponents have scored 16 times on 30 possessions, and only been forced to punt six times this season. The defense didn't register its first three-and-out of the year until limiting the Patriots to 2 yards on their opening possession of the second half last weekend.
Fewell has been so busy plugging holes he's been forced to simplify the defensive scheme so not to overburden the newcomers.
``We've stripped it back a lot. It does concern me,'' Fewell said. ``When you practice them, if they don't come off smooth the first or even the second day, you have to kind of take those things out and stick with something that's very base.''
Kelsay understands why the Bills are going with a simplified scheme, but worries how easy it is for opponents to pick it apart.
``(Fewell) wants to limit the amount of thinking that has to be done out there because of the inexperience at some of the positions,'' Kelsay said. ``But at the same time, you get pretty predictable.''
The good news is, some injured players are nearing their return. Besides Denney, linebackers Keith Ellison (high ankle sprain) and Coy Wire (sprained knee) could be back immediately after the Bills' bye on Oct. 14.
``We need guys that we could get back as quickly as possible,'' Kelsay said. ``We're waiting with open arms.''
 

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