Bills training camp preview: Linebackers

Buffalo Bills
milano edmunds

Buffalo Bills’ Matt Milano (58) and Tremaine Edmunds (49) tackle New York Jets’ Le’Veon Bell (26) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Strengths: Returners

For the third straight season, the Bills will have their two explosive starting linebackers – Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds.

Milano is returning after being re-signed by Brandon Beane in the off season. He missed six games due to injury in 2020, but still recorded 45 tackles and an interception. Two time Pro-Bowler Tremaine Edmunds racked up 119 tackles and two sacks last season.

Each had four tackles for loss and three quarterback hits, are incredibly athletic, and will be ready to have another strong season together.

Weaknesses: Position battles

The Bills have great starters and A.J. Klein as a strong number three. Now, all eyes are on the backups.

Tyrel Dodson, Tyler Matakevich, and Andre Smith are all returning after strong seasons. Matakevich and Smith are strong special teams players who could be moved into the starting lineup if need be, but the primary battle will likely be between Dodson and newcomer Tyrell Adams.

Matakevich shined in his first season with the Bills, racking up 23 tackles and two pass breakups.

X-Factor: Health

The Bills linebackers must stay healthy, end of story.

Last season, Milano and Dodson each missed six games while Edmunds missed one. It forced A.J. Klein to step up and have a career season, recording highs of 75 tackles, nine quarterback hits, 5.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, and four pass breakups.

The depth was tested last year early when Milano went down, and the younger guys faltered. With Dodson, Matakevich and Smith returning, they can provide better depth if things go south for the group healthwise, making the aforementioned position battle all the more important.

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