Bills camp: Greer getting his chance to shine
For three seasons, Jabari Greer sat and waited for his opportunity with the Buffalo Bills.
The cornerback saw some playing time with the Bills over that time, but it was mostly as a backup and special teams player. The University of Tennessee graduate knew he could be a starter in the NFL, and he just wanted a chance to prove himself.
Year four proved to be the charm. In 2007, the 5-11, 180-pound Greer played in all 16 games, starting 13 of them. He recorded two interceptions and had 47 total tackles.
For the first time, Greer came to training camp at St. John Fisher College as the team’s starting left cornerback.
“I was kind of low (on the depth chart), but things worked themselves out,” Greer said about last season. “I think my performance was something to build on. It gave me a foundation to go into the offseason and have a more positive mentality.”
Greer moved into the starting lineup last season after injuries to Jason Webster and Ashton Youboty.
And this year, though he’s the starter, he will have to work just as hard to stay in the starting lineup. Buffalo drafted Leodis McKelvin in the first round and 11th overall in April’s draft. The 5-10 corner out of Troy set a school all-time record with 3,909 all-purpose yards in his career.
“Jabari has been in our system, so he knows what it takes to play,” said defensive backs coach George Catavolos. “Leodis has the physical skills he just has to understand what it takes to play in this league and the adjustments that need to be made.”
Greer and the rest of the defense will look to turn around a unit that finished 31st overall and 29th against the pass.
Injuries played a key role in the unit’s struggles, as Greer wasn’t the only reserve to see playing time last year. Starters Ko Simpson, Paul Posluszny and Chris Kelsay were among the many defensive players to miss time due to injury.
For Greer, though, watching guys who became more than just teammates suffer was far more painful than any loss on the field.
“Not only are you losing teammates, you are losing good friends,” Greer said. “You are losing guys in the locker room, guys you grow with. Seeing one of your good friends go down with an injury, it not only puts a damper on your roster, it also hurts you as a man.”
Greer was signed by the Bills as an undrafted free agent in April of 2004. He was a three-year starter on the football team and also excelled in track and field at Tennessee.
He soaked up as much information as he could from secondary standouts Nate Clements, Troy Vincent and Lawyer Milloy during his early days with the Bills, and their advice served him well last season.
“It could have been difficult, but I had great veterans in front of me,” Greer said. “They would take me under their wing and teach me so much. I feel fortunate that I got to play under those guys.”
Even though he spent the early part of his career as a backup, Greer’s teammates had confidence that he could be a starter every week. He made enough plays in training camp and practice to impress teammates.
“To be honest, everybody knew what Jabari could do,” said Terrence McGee, a cornerback who is entering his sixth season with Buffalo. “He just needed that opportunity. He needed to be able to play and prove himself, and if you watched him each training camp, he was making plays.”
Bryan Sullivan is covering Bills training camp for Messenger Post Newspapers. He can be reached at (585) 394-0770 ext. 273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.