Breaking Out: The Poz making noise

Paul Posluszny (Getty Images)

In the first part of the BFR's "Breaking Out" series, Rich Pulvino says linebacker Paul Posluszny has anchored Buffalo's young, energetic defense...

The Bills have had a solid tradition of linebackers since the Super Bowl days of the early 90's: Cornelius Bennett, Darrell Talley, Brice Paup, Chris Spielman, London Fletcher, and Takeo Spikes come to mind. All of these guys had to earn their reputation throughout the NFL and gain the fans' respect before they become known as the heaviest of the heavy hitters.

Paul Posluszny is different story. Last year he broke his arm in the third game of the season against the Patriots. Before this season, Posluszny had not even played three full, regular season games. Yet, when you looked throughout the stands on opening day against the Seahawks, there was a sea of #51 jerseys. Although there were some Takeo Spikes #51 jerseys, probably 95 percent were Posluszny.

Before ever contributing substantially on the field, The Poz was a craze.

He made a name for himself becoming one of the hardest and toughest linebackers at Penn State. The Bills were able to steal him in the second round, an incredibly lucky twist of fate. In his first two games of the 2007 season, The Poz made his presence known. The Bills opened with two losses last year, but Poz opened with two games of 10+ tackles, immediately turning him into a defensive leader and force.

Unfortunately against the Patriots, Posluszny broke his arm on making a tackle, sidelining him for the remainder of the 2007 season.

This season is no different than last year's first two games, except this time, Posluszny is still healthy. He wants to prove to the NFL that he can be among the games greatest and so far, so good. In the 2008 season, Posluszny is the team leader in tackles with 34. He can be found all over the field too. He has had several pass deflections and is proving to be a solid short coverage defender - an all-around linebacker.

Against the Rams in Week 4, Poz was all over. He finished the game with eight tackles, but his impact went beyond statistics. If he wasn't in short coverage, he could be found putting pressure on in the backfield, scaring the shoes off of Trent Green. If he wasn't up front he would covering running backs, tight ends, and short route receivers. It seemed that on every play, Posluszny's name would come up for one reason or another, usually because he was a part of that play.

In the Raiders game, it was Posluszny who dove for a pass deflection and missed, resulting in a Johnnie Lee Higgins 84-yard, go-ahead touchdown. But he didn't let that affect his play. Posluszny came right back, the next defensive outing, taking part in the 3-and-out that helped Buffalo get the ball back with enough time to go score ten more points and win.

Posluszny is relentless. He is never seen shaken after a tackle and is never seen slowing down on any point on a play. Going back to the Rams game, on one of the blitzes against Trent Green, Posluszny could be seen reaching through a 300+ pound offensive lineman to get a hand up in front of Green's pass. While he did not deflect the pass, his pressure and presence were still consistently felt in the backfield. This is an aspect of his game that never changes from game to game.

Will Posluszny make the Pro Bowl this year? I'd say yes if he keeps up on being the constant tackle machine that he has proven to be. This includes being included in on more blitz packages, but that is not his call.

And the Pro Bowl isn't even at the top of his concerns right now. The selfless Bills are a threat in the AFC even after such a poor showing against the Cardinals. No NFL analyst picked the Bills to be in this position. This young team is proving that they are not the 7-9 team they were last year, they are much, much better...playoff potential.

And Posluszny is a big part of the reason why the Bills are in their current first place position.

rpulvino@gmail.com

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