2010 Damaged Goods May Become Treasures For Bills

Posted on August 30, 2011 by Patrick Moran

Photo095A pair of Buffalo Bills who spent their entire 2010 rookie seasons on injured reserve are looking to make a big impact on the team’s fortunes for 2011.  Both wide receiver Marcus Easley and linebacker Danny Batten have been an important part of the team’s preseason slate, and the coaching staff is hoping it continues once the games start counting on September 11.

Easley was an early fourth-round pick last year but missed the entire season with an ACL knee injury.  Following a (very) slow start to training camp and preseason, Easley exploded against the Jacksonville Jaguars this past Saturday, catching five passes for 51 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown strike in the back of the end zone from Ryan Fitzpatrick during extensive playing time with the starters.

At six-feet-two and 215 pounds, Easley is by far the team’s biggest and perhaps most athletic receiver.  If nothing else, he certainly looks the part.  Talk of starting alongside Stevie Johnson in Week one based on one game may be premature, but there’s little doubt he’s going to receive plenty of opportunities in Buffalo’s offense, provided he can stay on the field.  While his experience in the NFL and even college (Connecticut) is limited, Easley is slowly starting to show signs that he can be a dangerous receiver for years to come.

Conversely, there was no slow start for Batten this summer.  Much like, in fact the same day as Easley, Batten was placed on Injured Reserve last August 22nd following a severe shoulder injury.  If he showed any effects of surgery, it hasn’t leaked into his performance so far this summer.  One of, if not the best looking Bills’ players in camp this summer, Batten opened the preseason with a pair of sacks at Chicago and has looked good in games against Denver and Jacksonville, consistently getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

With Shawne Merriman anything but a lock to stay healthy over a full 16-game season, there will be chances for Batten, a converted inside linebacker, to make plenty of plays to keep himself on the field.

While it’s mostly accepted by everyone outside the Bills organization that 2011 is likely to be another “rebuilding” campaign, it would be a very good sign for the future of the franchise for these two to continue building on the success they’ve had over the past few weeks.

(Photo by Michael Thomas)

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1 Comment on 2010 Damaged Goods May Become Treasures For Bills

  1. Carl Burton

    I might be wrong on this, but I do not believe that either Easley or Batten were injured enough last year to have landed on IR. However, being that both players were talented and either very inexperienced (Easley only made a handful of starts @ UConn) or making a position change (Batten was a lightly regarded, @ least according to ESPN, DE from South Dakota St.) last season was treated as a red-shirt season for them. Even though a player on IR is not allowed to practice I think that they can sit in on position meetings. I know that the league frowns upon this practice, but teams do it all the time as a means to get physically talented players into the playbook mentally for some time before having to hit the field. I think Easley’s development, in combination with the overall depth @ WR, is the reason Nix and Gailey felt comfortable enough to trade Evans. Easley brings close to the same speed to the field that Evans does, but in a package 4 inches and 28 lbs. bigger. Not to mention 7 years younger. This team is at least 2 years away from making a meaningful playoff push and by then Easley will be 25 with a season or two under his belt and Evans will be 32 and beginnig to plan for his post playing career. In the end that is why Buddy traded Lee, where I will be pulling for him even though I could care less for the Ravens.

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