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It is both a compliment and a curse.

On the one hand, Buffalo Bills cornerback Nate Odomes is being avoided by opposing quarterbacks.

On the other hand, Odomes has few chances to intercept passes, and, as a
Damage keeps workers busy / C2

result, is being ignored when it comes to All-Pro recognition.

Entering Sunday's regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins, he has only one pickoff. That no doubt was the major cause for his being overlooked last week as players and coaches on other American Football Conference teams filled out their Pro Bowl ballots.

But what the statistics don't indicate is how infrequently Odomes is tested. Part of that is because he has spent much of the year paired with a rookie cornerback (J.D. Williams) -- a favorite target of any offense -- but most is due to the healthy respect quarterbacks have developed for him since he joined the Bills as a second-round draft pick in 1987.

Odomes takes great pride in the fact he has not been beaten deep on a single pass all season.

But he can't help but lament the fact the only recognition he has received during his NFL career is being named an honorable mention to the 1988 Associated Press All-Pro team.

"I do think the fact that I don't get a lot of action kind of hurts me when it comes to selecting people for the Pro Bowl," Odomes said. "Everybody likes to be recognized for the job that they've done. I'm sure there are a lot of people all over the league who feel that they are capable of being the top guy at their position.

"But it's not something I regret. I've had a great year. I've been having great years ever since I've been here."

The strength of his game is blanket coverage, which he displayed in last Sunday's victory over the Miami Dolphins. Mark Duper, the man to whom Odomes was assigned for most of the game, finished with only three receptions, and only two came while he was Odomes' direct responsibility.

"The other times, maybe he (Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino) was looking to throw my way and, by that time, the rush had gotten to him," Odomes said. "Usually, I'm playing bump-and-run, and I'm very consistent in getting my hands on a receiver. A quarterback only has a split-second to locate a receiver, so when he looks over and sees me jamming my guy or causing his release off the line to be disturbed, he tends to go another way."

As far as Bills head coach Marv Levy is concerned, this is the best of Odomes' four NFL seasons.

"He has the added experience and confidence that should come with it," Levy said. "He has a better feel and understanding for the game; he's playing the schemes better. And Nate's a very good competitor. He's a tougher guy than people realize."

"I enjoy doing it all," Odomes said. "I try to be a great run-supporter, a great cover man, a great zone player, a great man-to-man player."

That he isn't an All-Pro hurts, but not as much as it would if he weren't part of a team with a 13-2 record.

"My team is winning," Odomes said. "I'm in a situation where I have a good chance to go to the big one (the Super Bowl), so, right now, that's my only concern. And that will give me all of the consolation that I need."

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