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Bills' safety used size to help lock up Charger TE

The last time Bryan Scott was matched against Antonio Gates, the San Diego Chargers' tight end had his way with him.

It was 2004 and Scott was in his second season as a strong safety with the Atlanta Falcons when Gates finished with six receptions for 80 yards in a Falcons victory over the Chargers. That gave Scott, now with the Buffalo Bills, added incentive last Sunday against the Chargers and Gates.

Scott, playing strong safety, helped hold Gates to four catches for 55 yards in the Bills' triumph over the Chargers that pushed Buffalo to 5-1.

"As a competitor, you love the challenge," Scott said. "It took me back to my corner days in college out there on an island, me on a tight end or a receiver and you have to cover him one-on-one."

Scott played a pivotal role in a defensive package the Bills had been planning for some time. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell wanted a bigger body on Gates, one of the premier tight ends in the game, to bump him at the line of scrimmage and decided to play the 6-foot-1, 219-pound Scott on him early last week.

Donte Whitner, a natural strong safety, was moved to free safety in the regular defense and in nickel packages played nickel corner while George Wilson played free safety.

"You can't find too many strong safeties who can do that in this league, he's just that versatile," Scott said of the 5-foot-10, 208-pound Whitner. "The coaches had a vision, they have a game plan and they put it together and we were able to execute it."

The Chargers, one of highest scoring teams in the league, finished with just 208 passing yards and 14 points.

"He did what we wanted him to do," said Bills coach Dick Jauron. "He's a physical football player and a key member of our (special) teams."

Scott played a key role in two of the Chargers turnovers. In the second quarter, on third and 4 from the Chargers' 48, quarterback Philip Rivers fumbled as he was looking to throw to Gates, who couldn't get any separation after Scott jammed him at the line of scrimmage. In the fourth quarter, on first and goal from the Bills' 9, Rivers was locked in on Gates in the end zone but Scott had him well covered and the pass was picked off by linebacker Kawika Mitchell.

"He was out there playing a physical part of the run game, because he is a bigger safety, and to give Gates a little different look," Jauron said. "He is a very difficult tight end to cover for anybody and he did a pretty good job."

Scott's familiarity with Gates helped.

"He likes to push off a little bit, not illegally, but he's good at creating separation with his body," Scott said. "He runs anything from crossing routes to slants to seams, curl routes, option routes. You can kind of tell from his release what you think he's going to do. Sometimes he tries to lull you asleep by coming off the line early and then bursting."

Most importantly, Scott was pleased to have a hand in one of the biggest wins of the season.

"It's always great to be out on the field and help the team win in any way, whether it's special teams or on defense," he said.

***

Backup linebacker John DiGiorgio will have surgery next week to repair a torn ligament in his right knee and will miss the rest of the season, according to reports.

DiGiorgio was injured blocking on a punt return in the second quarter of Sunday's 23-14 win over San Diego. He was carted off the field and left the locker room on crutches after the game. DiGiorgio is likely headed for the injured reserve list, which would cut into the Bills' depth at linebacker. Prior to the season, Angelo Crowell (knee) and Alvin Bowen (knee) were placed on IR.

Bills coach Dick Jauron is expected to address DiGiorgio's injury during his weekly news conference today.

e-mail: rmckissic@buffnews.com

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