The Buffalo Bills have completed two preseason games and within their 1-1 record many fans and pundits have focused on the play of “headliners” such as EJ Manuel and Sammy Watkins, in addition to how the first team defense has performed. While all of those are important stories, many fans tend to forget that the preseason is also about identifying backups and role players to fill out the roster that will also contribute on special teams, and could possibly be thrown into serious game action if an injury occurs. With that in mind one defensive player has stood out in my eyes, and that’s linebacker Ty Powell.
Powell graduated from Harding University and was a seventh-round draft pick of the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks in 2013. Last season, he was a final cut by the Seahawks, but was signed to their practice squad, where he spent three weeks before being picked up by the New York Giants. After two weeks, Powell was picked up by the Bills and has been with the team since.
His first game as a member of the Bills came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, and he made quite an impression– recording four tackles while primarily playing special teams. Powell went on to play in three more games, adding five more tackles to his stat-line. After the season, Head Coach Doug Marrone spoke about getting six “core special-teamers,” naming Powell as a potential role-player heading into this season.
With half of a professional season already under his belt, Powell has carried his momentum into the first two preseason games having recorded six tackles, recovering a fumble, and breaking up a pass. Though the stats aren’t eye-popping, Powell has often been in place to make a play– including the muffed punt recovery against the Carolina Panthers.
When Powell wasn’t making special team tackles, or filling run gaps left by fellow camp standout Landon Cohen, he was often seen covering the tight ends against the Panthers. In fact, Powell was often matched up against Carolina’s Brandon Williams in the second half. Though he gave up two passes, he was there to make the immediate tackle and his one defended pass was almost an interception.
It appears that the Bills will likely bring over five or six linebackers to their 53 man roster and, with Brandon Spikes, Nigel Bradham, Keith Rivers, and Preston Brown appearing as locks; in it looks as if Powell is battling fellow seventh round draft pick Randell Johnson and Buffalo native Jimmy Gaines for the final position spot.
He was recently put on the injury list with an undisclosed medical condition, but if he can return and continue his outstanding play through the final two games, then expect Powell to make the team and help provide immediate dividends to a special teams unit that was ranked 30th according to Football Outsiders.