With a helmet on, it's impossible to distinguish the newest member of the Buffalo Bills from one of coach Rex Ryan's all-time favorite players.
Safety Wes Miller, who signed with the team this week, bears a striking similarity to Jim Leonhard -- a 10-year veteran who spent four seasons in Buffalo over two stints with the Bills. Even their numbers (Miller is 35, Leonhard wore 36) are right next to each other.
"He does look like Jim Leonhard, and if he's half the player, we'll sign up for that as well," Ryan said. "He does have some of the same characteristics of Jim Leonhard. He's smart, sharp as a tack. I like the fact, when he had him, he goes, 'yeah, I just can't wait until the pads come on.' I'm like, 'you're 5-foot-nothing, you want to wait until the pads comes on?' But that's how he feels about himself. You have to be that. He does't realize he's 5-9 1/2 or whatever he is, 175 pounds."
Miller joined the Bills after participating in last week's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. He played collegiately at UTEP under head coach Sean Kugler, a Lockport native, and led the Miners in tackles (74) and interceptions (two), while tying for second with six passes defensed. He also served as a team captain, starting all 12 games as a senior.
"He clearly jumped out as a guy that was really on top of things," Ryan said. "That's probably the most underrated thing in the NFL game, is how sharp mentally you need to be. Some guys can have all the physical traits in the world, but if you can't handle it mentally, then you're really bringing the team down. He's clearly a guy that really got it.
"I'll be excited to see how he progresses as we go. It's a very deep group back there. What are his shots of making the team? I don't know, but we never put a regulator on a guy, that 'hey, he can't make it.' I'll never say that. You metioned Jim Leonhard. He was a free agent that had, what, a 10-year career or something? So that would be great, I'll sign up for that right now."