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Bills Notebook: Leslie Frazier still wants to see more from rookie cornerbacks Kaiir Elam, Christian Benford

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Buffalo Bills Training Camp (copy)

The Bills are determined to give rookie cornerbacks Kaiir Elam (24) and Christian Benford plenty of work in the preseason. 

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The Buffalo Bills are still in the process of determining exactly what they have in rookie cornerbacks Kaiir Elam and Christian Benford.

That explains why the two of them started last week’s preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said Wednesday.

“We wanted to get as many views of our young corners as we could, and it'll be the same way in these final two preseason games,” Frazier said. “We need to get a real good evaluation of the two of them and make a good decision leading up to our season opener.”

The Bills held third-year veteran Dane Jackson out against the Colts in order to see Elam and Benford more.

“We have a pretty good feel for Dane, and he'll get some work before the preseason is done, I'm sure,” Frazier said. “He's played games for us. His experience matters, although (it) is limited in the grand scheme of things. But for us, he's ahead of the rookie corners that we have. We just needed to be able to see them more.”

It’s imperative that the Bills get Benford and Elam up to speed, because it’s looking increasingly likely that one of them will be called on to start opposite Jackson for the Sept. 8 season opener against the Los Angeles Rams. All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White remains on the physically-unable-to-perform list, and there is no indication he’ll be ready for the opener.

“If Nate Breske, our head trainer, would come by this morning and say, ‘Hey, Tre’Davious is going to be ready to go tomorrow,’ that would be welcome news,” Frazier said. “But in the meantime, really got to do a good job of getting Christian, getting Kaiir ready, along with Dane and see what happens from there. So, we just kind of cross our fingers hoping we'll get to Tre’Davious soon.”

Both Elam and Benford had some good moments against the Colts, who started veteran quarterback Matt Ryan. Each of them made two tackles and one pass defensed in the win.

“They were both targeted, and when they had opportunities to make plays, they made plays,” Frazier said. “They were physical, they got their hands on balls, they were good in man coverage. For the most part, their eyes were where they should have been in zone. So, we were pleased with their first outing. Now, with the practices that we have remaining, along with the two preseason games, you want to just continue to grow and develop. We got to keep putting them out there and put them in different situations to see how they respond.”

That’s imperative, because Frazier knows the Rams are going to test Elam or Benford in Week 1.

“When you get to the regular season, that's a big bull’s-eye on a rookie corner’s chest,” Frazier said. “You have more things thrown at you and we're trying to throw as much as we can at them this time of the year, but there's nothing like being in game situations. The good thing is, they're both very confident in their abilities and that showed in the way they played in this first preseason game. That's a big deal at corner.”

Injury report

The Bills were down a couple defensive linemen during Wednesday’s practice on the outdoor grass fields next to the team’s fieldhouse. Defensive tackle Tim Settle was out with a calf injury, while defensive end Kingsley Jonathan missed because of an ankle injury. Both rode a stationary bike on the sideline. Additionally, safety Micah Hyde and right tackle Spencer Brown missed practice with general soreness. They may be back as soon as Thursday.

Also not practicing Wednesday were safety Jordan Poyer (elbow), offensive tackle Tommy Doyle (foot) and wide receiver Marquez Stevenson (foot). White and guard Ike Boettger remain on the PUP list.

Edge rusher Von Miller returned after being excused from two practices for a personal matter.


The Bills held a rather lively practice that featured a couple decent scuffles. Rookie offensive lineman Luke Tenuta was engaged with defensive end Daniel Joseph and appeared to throw some punches before the two were quickly separated. Later, wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie got into it with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds – who has a decided size advantage. Wide receiver Gabe Davis also got into the mix, and exchanged some shoves with Edmunds, who rarely gets involved in these situations.

On the next play, quarterback Josh Allen connected with wide receiver Stefon Diggs for a touchdown. Diggs was taken to the ground by cornerback Taron Johnson on the play, and didn’t appreciate it. He spiked the ball in Johnson’s direction and let everyone on the defense know they couldn’t guard him.

“It’s football. It’s always going to get chippy,” running back Duke Johnson said. “There’s always going to be fights, but once you get in the locker room, you’re still one team.”

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News Sports Reporter

I started at The Buffalo News in 2009, and have previously been honored as one of the top 10 beat writers in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors for my coverage of the Bills. I live in Amherst with my wife, Melissa, and son, Elliott.

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