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Colt Anderson looks to overcome odds (again) to make Bills' roster

Another town, another team to make.

Another coaching staff that must be convinced small guys who aren't blessed with the greatest speed or athleticism can play this game dominated by big men and elite athletes.

Another training camp and preseason of having almost no margin for error.

Another summer of sweating, not from the intense heat of the August sun or smothering humidity, but rather from the constant thought that a knock on the door is coming, followed by those two dreaded sentences: "Coach wants to see you. Bring your playbook."

"It's the story of my life," Colt Anderson said. "Being a walk-on. Being an undrafted free agent. I'm never fast enough, never big enough. So it's just something I've lived with."

He lived with it when, with no scholarship, he earned a spot on the University of Montana football team. He lived with it when he signed a post-draft contract with the Minnesota Vikings in 2009. He lived with it for four seasons (2010-2013) with the Philadelphia Eagles. He lived with it the past two years as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

Now, Anderson's living with it as a member of the Buffalo Bills.

"I was just patient and knew that a team was going to come around eventually and, fortunately, the Bills did," he said. "Great opportunity here. They take pride in their special teams, and it's kind of what's gotten me eight years in the NFL now, my special-teams play."

His position is safety, but he knows his path to the 53-man roster is as a "four-phase guy." That's special-teams speak for punt and punt return, kickoff and kickoff return.

Anderson needs to demonstrate that, at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds, he's just the right size to handle covering punts and kickoffs and blocking for returners.

He knows the drill.

"I've got to be in the right place at the right time and use my smarts as well," Anderson said. "You've got to be smart. You've got to make plays, but at the same time, you can't go in there like a kamikaze. You can't worry about getting hurt, I've never worried about getting hurt. I've been lucky. I've had one major injury. Tore my ACL back in 2011 and I was able to rebound and get back on the field.

"You've got to pick and choose your battles."

During one OTA practice in early June, Anderson chose to stretch the NFL-mandated limitations on contact during padless, offseason practices as far as they would go against tight end Nick O'Leary, who is five inches taller and 57 pounds heavier. Anderson was in the secondary. The defense was showing blitz and he had man-to-man coverage underneath. His job was to jam O'Leary and not allow him to run an inside "hot" route for a quick throw.

As O'Leary came off the line, Anderson hurled himself at him, knocking him sideways and out of the play with a hard jolt. Everyone watching the practice noticed, including the head coach.

"Anderson really packs a punch for a little guy, doesn't he?" a reporter asked.

"Boy, he does," Rex Ryan said.

"That was a great play call and I just so happened to be in the right place at the right time and doing my job," Anderson said.

Right place, right time, right frame of mind. A classic overachiever's moment.

"Yeah, I mean, the way I prepare and work, on and off the field, is how I've gotten this far," Anderson said. "You can say people use critics as their chip on their shoulder, but I've always used guys in my corner to motivate me and keep me going."

Those "guys" begin with his wife, Keelie, and their two children: Cage, who is three, and Krew, who is four.

"They've always supported me and kept my confidence up," Anderson said. "And that's a big deal in the NFL, having confidence in your ability and, on top of that, having coaches that are confident in your play and know that you can go out there and perform."

He seems to already have won over a pretty important coach.

"Obviously, the thing jumps out at you is this is one of the best special teams players in the league," Ryan said. "So we know what we're getting. We are also getting a guy that can play safety. He's done it, and then when we bring him into the (safety) mix, it's like you know you're taking a guy because of what we know he does on teams but (also) the fact that this guy is a pretty good (position) player as well."

Counting Anderson, the Bills have seven safeties on their 90-man roster: starters Aaron Williams and Corey Graham, plus Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks, Robert Blanton and Phillip Thomas.

"You know, we may end up keeping them all," Ryan said. "You never know if it's a crazy year like that. But the numbers you generally keep are four. I have kept as many as five. Maybe it's six this year, who knows?"

All Colt Anderson knows is that it's another year he'll have to sweat it out.

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