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Buffalo Bills Training Camp: Stephon Gilmore And 3 Players With The Most To Prove

 With the Buffalo Bills' training camp underway, there are position battles across the board we haven't seen in years. There is significant depth at almost every position, which means there is a lot at stake for some players. Training camp is the time for players to set themselves apart from their peers, and earn not only a spot on the final 53-man roster, but a starting role. These three players have the most to prove in preseason and training camp.

CB Stephon Gilmore

The Bills selected cornerback Stephon Gilmore out of South Carolina with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft with the hopes of him being a true No. 1 cornerback from day one. In three seasons as a Gamecock, the physical corner notched 181 tackles, 15 of which were for a loss, seven sacks, seven interceptions, 23 pass deflections, and forced four fumbles. The Bills have a logjam at the cornerback position, even after the release of Drayton Florence, but it is expected that Gilmore will line up opposite of second-year corner, Aaron Williams.

Since training camp began, Gilmore's teammates and coaches have had nothing but praise for the rookie.

Just days into training camp, Gilmore has been facing off against the Bills' top wideout, Stevie Johnson, who had this to say about him:

``I don't know how to say it, but he's up there with some of the DBs in the league who've been playing for a couple of years, and he hasn't even played one play. Really, I don't want to speak too highly, but it's hard to not speak highly of somebody that can play as well as he has from rookie minicamp all the way up until now.''

Just watch the Bills Roundup videos on BuffaloBills.com, and you'll see that Gilmore is jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage and breaking up passes left and right. As a top ten draft pick, Gilmore has to prove he is worthy of his status.

WR Donald Jones

Wide receiver Donald Jones is entering his third year in the National Football League, and Chan Gailey says he is the No. 2 wide receiver heading into training camp.

"Donald will start there. But still, we're looking at everybody. We've not ruled anybody out at this point at that spot. You've got to have somebody that walks out there the first day and you all will write about it and talk about it, but we're going to move people around at different times at camp," Gailey remarked.

However, Jones better not get too comfortable, as the Bills used a mid round draft choice to select the speedster, T.J. Graham out of North Carolina State in the 2012 NFL Draft. Furthermore, Derek Hagan has been playing extremely well in training camp and played solid down the stretch last season with very little time to develop a rapport with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
 
Jones missed eight games last year due to injury, and managed just 23 receptions for 231 yards and a score. One thing Jones has going for him is that he was working in the slot throughout minicamp, a position he played in 2010 during his rookie year. If he can learn all of the wide receiver positions Chan Gailey employs, he has a shot to be a solid candidate for the No. 2 receiver role.

DE Shawne Merriman

Shawne Merriman is converting from a 3-4 outside linebacker to defensive end in a pass rushing role. However, injuries have hampered the former All-Pro and he is coming off of season-ending achilles surgery. Merriman states he is 100 percent, but he already suffered a minor injury when he rolled his ankle in practice. However, despite the minor setback, Merriman has earned reps with the first team, and registered sacks on back-to-back plays. Coach Gailey seemed impressed by his quickness compared to last season, telling BuffaloBills.com's Chris Brown:

“It is not just the last couple of days. He had the nicked ankle, but before that and since then he has given great effort. It looks like he has some quickness to him. Stamina is good. Hopefully he will make the season and things will go well for him. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do when we get it really live.”

The real question boils down to whether Merriman can stay on the field for the whole year. He has missed 48 games since 2008 due to injuries after recording 39.5 sacks in his first three years in the league. If healthy, Merriman could be a very good situational pass rusher in the Bills' defensive line rotation.

LT Cordy Glenn

The Buffalo Bills jumped at the chance to select Cordy Glenn in the 2012 NFL draft, as the 6'5," 343-pounder out of Georgia has played virtually every position on the offensive line. Now is his time to prove the pundits wrong that said he was best suited as a guard. General Manager Buddy Nix saw him as a tackle from the get go, and he is the front runner to start from day one. His 50 collegiate starts are tied for the most in the University's history, however just 18 have come protecting the blindside. Glenn has taken all of the first-team reps throughout Offseason Training Activities.

Head coach Chan Gailey seems optimistic about Glenn's chances, stating toBuffaloBills.com:

“He has the ability,” said Gailey of Glenn. ”Now there are a lot of guys with a bunch of ability that are home today. But he has the ability, it’s can he transition that into pads and the speed of the game? Minicamp is just one speed. There’s another speed when you go to at training camp. There’s another speed when you hit preseason games. There’s another speed when you hit the regular season and still another speed when you reach the playoffs. So can you transition with all those speed changes, that’s a different deal. But he and Chris (Hairston) will be working at left tackle. I don’t know who will win that job.”

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