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Bills take low-risk shot on high-end athlete Owa Odighizuwa

The scenery is all new for young Buffalo Bills defensive end Owa Odighizuwa.

Maybe that's what he needs as he hits the reset button on his NFL career.

Odighizuwa – pronounced Oh-DIGGY-zoo-wah – was a third-round draft pick of the New York Giants in 2015. He did little for the G-Men, got cut after serving a four-game, performance-enhancing drugs suspension last year and signed with the Bills as a minimum-salary free agent in March.

"It's just the way the league works," Odighizuwa said during Bills minicamp this week. "A lot of guys can attest to this. Sometimes you get drafted one place and it doesn't go the way you envision it. You're just looking for that second opportunity. You've got to be grateful when you get that second opportunity. Guys come from different walks of life, different challenges, some guys sit out longer than I have. You have to be grateful when you get the call."

The Bills have a glaring need for edge rushers. It makes perfect sense for them to bring in some low-risk candidates and see if they can get lucky.

With big-ticket free-agent signee Trent Murphy sitting out 11-on-11 work in minicamp, the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Odighizuwa even got a few first-team snaps at left defensive end the past week.

Odighizuwa came out of UCLA with a chiseled body and loads of potential. His 39-inch vertical jump was best among defensive linemen in the 2015 draft. So was his 10-foot, 7-inch broad jump. His 4.62-second 40-yard dash time was second best.

"The most sculpted, picture-perfect physique of any player in the draft," wrote draftnik Nolan Nawrocki.

But he wasn't a full-time starter at UCLA until his senior year and only had six sacks for UCLA, playing mostly as a 5-technique defensive end, across from the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle. He was stout against the run. In short, he has the look and the test numbers of an elite edge rusher but not the production of one.

With the Giants, he was behind two high quality defensive ends in Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. He was dinged with injuries as a rookie and did little in 2016. He was released after the four-week suspension to start last season. He makes no excuses.

"It was a poor mistake on my behalf," he said. "I misrepresented my family and obviously the organization, the Giants, at the time. I owned up to it. It was rough being suspended those first four games but that's something I learned from."

But sitting out all last season makes him even more appreciative of his chance to crack the Bills' roster.

"Just being able to have an opportunity to play football again is wonderful," he said. "The coaches said there's an opportunity here. I've been making the most of it, getting good feedback from the coaches. My thing is just taking it one day at a time, whether I'm with the 1s, 3s or 2s."

"There's really not a starting unit at this point, so we're looking at different players in those roles and seeing how they handle themselves," said Bills coach Sean McDermott. "See if they look out of place with the 1s. And I thought Owa's had a nice offseason to this point. It's been well documented what he's been able to do coming out of college. He's an explosive player, so he'll be a big prospect for us moving forward."

The Bills have been using him as an inside rusher on passing situations as well. He knows he will have to show some pass rush, particularly his counter moves, in training camp.

"I think I'm definitely coming along," he said. "Having more than one move, being polished, is important. The more you play, the more you understand how the ebbs and flows of the game works, the more you're able to utilize some of the moves you work on in practice. That's kind of what I'm doing now, having those moves in mind."

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