Based on comments from coaches and teammates, Kelvin Sheppard is having an outstanding offseason. For not playing a game, Sheppard sure has racked up the accolades since the season ended.
When Dave Wannstedt took over as defensive coordinator, head coach Chan Gailey made it clear that Sheppard, who played in all 16 games with nine starts as a rookie, would be the starting middle linebacker. There would be no camp competition — the job was Sheppard’s. And with OTAs under way, the team is not shying away from building Sheppard up as he enters his second pro season.
“Last year, I don’t think I’ve ever had a rookie come to my house as much as he did since I’ve been in the league to watch film,” veteran LB Nick Barnett told reporters. “I think he’s a student of the game. If he continues that mindset, he can be one of the greats.”
Added Gailey, “We think that Shepp handles the inside part of our game extremely well. He’s an intelligent guy. He plays hard and physical.”
Sheppard notched 70 tackles last season and one pass defensed. We heard from one source that Sheppard has natural leadership ability and great instincts — both key for the "Mike" LB position.
Sheppard said this week that he’s not letting any of the expectations “get to my head,” but the bar has been set high for him. The Bills’ defense improved marginally last season, going from last in the league against the run to 28th. This offseason, Buffalo improved the pass rush, but the linebackers still have to step up.