Friday, July 11, 2008

Breakout Player: LB Paul Posluszny (Bills)

26 Tackles; (17 solo and 9 assisted). Thats all that Buffalo Bills LB Paul Posluszny registered in his rookie season. Granted, that was only the totals after the first 3 games of the season (ranking 3rd in the league at the time) before suffering a season ending broken left forearm Week 4 against the New England Patriots.

The 6'1" 238 pound linebacker from Penn State was drafted in the 2nd Round (38th overall) in 2007 by the Bills in hopes of revamping its defense after losing players such as LB London Fletcher (Redskins) and LB Takeo Spikes (Eagles; now free agent). He made an immediate impact in his first training camp, being named a starter as a rookie, one week before the season started.

Coming from "Linebacker U" (Penn St; known for producing excellent linebackers), Posluszny was a four-year starter and captain, winning numerous All-American honors and was a two-time winner of the prestigious Chuck Bednarik Award (2005 & 2006) presented to college football's best defensive player. In his Senior season, he registered 116 total tackles and helped solidify himself as one of the best linebackers ever to play for Penn St.

Posluszny combines very good athleticism, instincts and quickness while playing the Outside Linebacker position. He possesses a tough, aggressive attitude, makes good decisions, is a leader on the field and plays with consistency. Despite not being the ideal size for a LB, he uses his ability to read/react to get a fast jump on the ball, and is very smooth and fluid when dropping into pass coverage. He showcases excellent strength when taking on blockers and has a knack for always being involved or around the ensuing tackle.

What are some of the factors that will enable Posluszny to have a breakout year in 2008?

1) Health Paul showed durability throughout his college career, displaying toughness by playing through pain and recovering quickly from a knee injury suffered in 2006. While it was difficult to miss most of last year, (he tried relentlessly to play a week after he broke his arm until the team put him on the Injure Reserve), Posluszny is entering the new season with a year of understanding the defense under his belt and a clean bill of health.

2) Bills Defense Buffalo's defense is underrated, mostly because they do not put up great numbers. The last couple of years they have been a bend-but-don't-break defense, forcing offenses to play conservative and not give up the big play. They made some vast improvements this offseason. They traded for three-time Pro-Bowl defensive tackle Marcus Stroud (Jaguars), a huge addition (6'6" 310 lbs) to an undersized line. He commands double teams, which will allow other players (like Pozluszny) to make more plays. LB Kawika Mitchell (Giants) and DE Spencer Johnson (Vikings) were also added and should make an immediate impact.

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