Expected to be one of the tougher roster battles on the Buffalo Bills roster this season, the battle for the starting middle linebacker spot has been pretty one-sided thus far. With the return of Reggie Ragland from injury and Preston Brown being seen as “too slow” for head coach Sean McDermott’s defense, many predicted that Brown and Ragland would have a world class battle to earn a starting spot.
However, since the start of training camp, the battle has been more of skirmish given the fact that second-year player Reggie Ragland has yet to take reps with the first team. Seeing Brown take all the first team reps thus far, an outside observer might have assumed that the coaching staff had soured on Ragland, leading Brown to once again secure a starting role.
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That is not the case though. Coming off a torn ACL that he suffered during rookie minicamp last year, Ragland is technically a rookie player this season. Getting to participate in his first ever NFL training camp, the coaching staff have chosen to take a slow and steady approach when it comes to bringing Ragland around.
Speaking to the media at the Bills training camp practice, Sean McDermott answered some questions about Reggie Ragland and why he has yet to really compete against Preston Brown for a starting spot on the defense.
“There’s a plan for every player. Reggie’s a second-year player coming off a knee injury. Really, this is his first year, so acclimating him to practice tempo — he missed most of the spring — acclimating him to the system and putting him in position, like we try to do with all our players, to have success. Success early and success in the long term.”
So there we have it, Reggie Ragland is just being brought along at a slow and safe pace to make sure he doesn’t suffer any setbacks or suffer from problems by adjusting to NFL practices to fast. It’s a smart move given the amount of talent that he possesses and given that Preston Brown has proven to be none-too-shabby when it comes playing an important role, there is no rush for Ragland to move into a starting role.
With the battle for the starting middle linebacker spot far from over at this stage, look for the competition to heat up in the coming weeks as Reggie Ragland becomes more acclimated to the NFL and his new head coaches practices.