The old cliche that a football player is doing his job when he’s not noticed is usually reserved for offensive linemen.
But in the case of the Buffalo Bills, it fits for safety Jordan Poyer.
“You hit the nail on the head – he’s been flying under the radar,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said. “His role on this defense is vital. He communicates well back there for us. He’s one of the quarterbacks along with Micah Hyde, for the defense and the secondary.”
Poyer’s training camp was quiet in a good way. He’s stayed off the injury report, which for a player who missed 10 games in 2016 had to be priority No. 1.
“That feels great,” said Poyer, who suffered a lacerated kidney, bruised liver and internal bleeding as the result of a massive blindside hit last October. “I've been working hard this offseason and coming into camp to just be in a position to be a starter on this team. That's what I want.”
He’s been that seemingly from the moment he signed a four-year contract with the Bills in March that could pay him up to $13 million.
“Love the way he plays, love his brand of football,” McDermott said. “Works extremely hard, and really personifies what we’re about with the hard work, with the toughness, he puts the team first. All those characteristics are what we’re about.”
Told of his coach’s comments, Poyer kept an even keel – which is his default approach.
“To hear that from the head coach, it's always great,” he said, “but I still know I've got a lot to work on. ... That's how I always approach camp. I'm just out there trying do my job, my 1/11th as coach always says. Keep continuing to grow within this defense, keep continuing to communicate and get better each and every day."
The glass-half-empty approach to a quiet training camp would be that Poyer hasn’t made a lot of big plays.
“You've got to create turnovers, you've got to take the ball away,” he said. “Any time you have that mentality, you're going to give yourself a chance to win.”
Poyer made a couple of impact plays in the Bills' second preseason game against the Eagles last Thursday, finishing with a tackle for a loss and a pass defensed in 29 defensive snaps.
"I feel like I'm picking up the defense really well," he said.
That's good news for a secondary that, after the trade of Ronald Darby to the Eagles, has been totally rebuilt. In addition to Darby, other starters gone from last year include cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safeties Corey Graham and Aaron Williams. Even in the here-today, gone-tommorrow world of the NFL, that's a massive amount of turnover for one team.
That makes communication between Poyer and Hyde vital. The Bills will start a rookie at cornerback in first-round draft pick Tre'Davious White and are holding a competition to see who will replace Darby.
"You've got to be on top of that each and every single day," Poyer said of getting everyone on the same page. "Communication is a big key in any defense, but particulary in our defense because we're all so new."