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Leslie Frazier says Bills will have 'open competition' to fill Ronald Darby's starting spot

PITTSFORD – Leslie Frazier's defense has a big hole that didn't exist a few days ago.

When the Buffalo Bills traded cornerback Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, it opened a spot in the starting lineup that Frazier didn't expect to have to fill.

"Ronald did a good job in the short time that we had him," the Bills' defensive coordinator said Monday. "Probably the biggest difference is we've just got to find out who the next guy is. He was pegged as the starting right corner up until a few days ago. So we've just got to identify who's going to be the starting right corner, and that's another part of the preseason as well. We get a chance to take a view at a few different guys and let them fight for that spot."

Candidates for the job include second-year pro Kevon Seymour, Shareece Wright and newly acquired E.J. Gaines, who came to the team in a separate trade from the Los Angeles Rams. Leonard Johnson, who is currently listed first on the Bills' depth chart, has been working exclusively in the slot.

"I mean, it's open for competition," Frazier said. "All the guys on our roster playing corner, they're going to be competing for that right corner spot. ... You can just go right down the line. We're going to put the best guy out there and these next three preseason games, along with the practices that we have, will give us an indication of who that guy is. We'll see what happens. We'll see how it shakes out."

One job that's not open: the starting left cornerback position that has been filled by first-round draft pick Tre'Davious White. Dealing Darby would seem to be a vote of confidence that White can be the Bills' No. 1 cornerback, even as a rookie. Frazier, though, pumped the brakes on that a bit.

"I don't know if that was the mindset. We have a role for him," he said. "He was our first-round pick. Starter for us right now in our lineup, but with all rookies, there's a learning curve. At the corner position in particular -- really at any position -- but even moreso at corner. So I don't know if you want to put that mantel on him as a rookie who has one preseason game under his belt and say 'you're the No. 1 corner.'

"It'll involve maybe into that, 'he's going to be our best corner, it'll be obvious to everyone.' But we're not sitting in our meetings, 'now, Tre'Davious, you gotta be able to go shut down this guy, that guy, that guy.' We want him just to develop, grow, and become the player we all expect him to be."

Seymour has worked both outside and in the slot before a foot injury took him out of practice.

"We had a plan for him but he’s missed a few days so it’s kind of set back some things a little bit," Frazier said before practice. "We’re still trying to determine if he’s going to be better inside for us or better outside. We need to get him back on the field before we can make that determination, but it’s still kind of early for that right now."

Seemingly on command, Seymour was able to return to the practice field, at least on a limited basis.

"Just as an athlete and competior that I am, I was trying to get back as soon as possible," Seymour said. "They had to kind of like tell me, 'relax, make sure your foot is all right.' With the mindset I've got, I'm like, 'I need to go now' I was doing extra treatment and rehab. They had to slow me down some, but I'm back and ready to go."

Seymour appeared to split first-team reps with Greg Mabin on Monday. Wright missed practice because of a sprained thumb.

"I definitely was anxious," Seymour said. "I've been out for quite a while. A little under a week is long enough for me."

While that might not sound like such a long time, missing four practices and a preseason game at a time the coaching staff is trying to determine where everyone fits is significant. While Seymour was out, the team traded Darby, brought in veteran E.J. Gaines in a separate trade and signed Jumal Rolle.

"There's a lot of competition in the room right now," Seymour conceded. "We have a lot of guys who can step up and compete for that position."

 

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