Bills cornerback competition about to heat up as pads ready to come on

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Buffalo Bills cornerback Levi Wallace (39) intercepts a pass intended for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington (13) in the end zone during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. The Bills won 17-10. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – One of the most interesting position battles this Bills training camp is at cornerback. Who will start opposite of Tre’Davious White is still to be determined.

Last year, Levi Wallace started 16 games but now finds himself in a familiar spot now as he was in one year ago. He’ll have to beat out Josh Norman to keep that starting job.

“With the experience that Josh brings to the table that really sets him apart in a lot of ways. But he’s coming in with a chip on his shoulder, things didn’t end the way he wanted them to end in Washington so hopefully that will bode well for us,” defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said on a zoom call with reporters.

But Wallace is no stranger to competition even before getting to the NFL. He was a walk on at Alabama and worked his way to earn a starting spot.

“Levi has done a really good job for us. He’s continued to improve every year so I think it’s gonna be a really good competition and we’re gonna benefit from that competition. Looking forward to when we start going fast, when we get the pads on and just see how it all plays out,” Frazier explained.

Then he didn’t hear his name called during the 2018 draft and signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent and just like college, eventually became a starter.

“We always talk to Levi, people are going to look at him as the undrafted free agent so you’re gonna find yourself in these situations maybe year in and year out, someone trying to come in and say I can be out the undrafted free agent,” Frazier said.

“So I think that just really pushes Levi to work hard and have a desire to show everybody maybe I wasn’t drafted but I’m as good as anybody else that you’re gonna bring in or better. He practices that way and he plays that way and it’s good for us. He understands I can’t ever relax.”

Elsewhere in the Bills cornerback room, E.J. Gaines was expected to provide depth but decided to opt out of the 2020 season. So that opens the door for rookie Dane Jackson who the Bills drafted in the seventh round.

“If he can come in and give us some quality snaps in a backup role that would be terrific which would mean that our starters are staying healthy and on the field and we’re able to develop him as a pro. That would be optimal. Now with the way things are he may end up having to play at some point in games and we’re gonna try to prepare him to do that but we have not had much exposure to him but we’re gonna prepare him to be ready to play,” Frazier said.

“It would be really good for us if we got him to the point where he was confident enough to go in to a game and play at a high level.”

Not only has Jackson had to navigate these challenging times as a rookie but to make things tougher, he tested positive for coronavirus and was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. He has recovered and is now off the list but Frazier makes sure to check in on him a little bit more given everything he’s gone through.

“What I’ve tried to do is just talk with him daily and just get a feel for where he is mentally as well as how does he feel physically. Of course our trainers and doctors are doing the same thing. His attitude has been great, he’s really focused on the field and the classroom and trying to learn and try to go out on the field and perform. Everything has been going well with all things considered at this point but his attitude and approach have been terrific,” Frazier said.

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