ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Kiko Alonso had a magnificent rookie season for the Buffalo Bills. The second-round draft pick was plugged in as the starting middle linebacker from day one, and went on to play every defensive snap, a total of 1,145.
Not surprisingly, he led the Bills in tackles (159), was third in the league, and earned recognition on the NFL's all-rookie team and was runner-up to the New York Jets' Sheldon Richardson as defensive rookie of the year.
This year, Alonso is going to make the shift to weakside linebacker in new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's 4-3, a position that should be an even better fit for the player. On the outside, Alonso can get out into space and use his speed to pursue plays.
It will be interesting to see if Alonso can still be an ironman. By the end of last year it was obvious that he wasn't moving quite as well as he was the first three months, and it turned out that he had a hip injury that required postseason surgery.
"Everyone's hurting in December," Alonso said. "You've just got to push through it. That's part of the game"
The Bills really didn't have a viable option at middle linebacker last year to back up Alonso, so it wasn't prudent to take him out. However, given the way he slowed down at the end of 2013, the coaching staff might try to spot him a few plays per game. Of course being the competitor that he is, Alonso wants no part of that.
"I hate coming off the field," he said. "If the defense is on the field, I want to be on the field."
Right now, he is not on the field. Alonso hasn't done much in team drills so far in the OTA workouts, and that's by design as he recovers from the surgery.
"It's been nice to get that time off and relax," he said. "Now it's time to get back to work. I feel great. I've had a great rehab, and I'm just trying to get stronger."
From what he has seen and learned about the new defense, Alonso feels like he'll be in for another big year, and he's hoping he will be more involved during the Bills' mandatory mini-camp next week.
"I think I'm going to be doing a lot of similar stuff," Alonso said. "I'm just excited to move to the outside in this new scheme. It's a great scheme, obviously. Coach Schwartz is a great coach."
Schwartz has not seen Alonso do much in person yet, but he saw the tape from last year, and he knows he's got a terrific player on his hands.
"We have talented players on all three levels of our defense," said Scwartz. "A lot was made of our Pro Bowl players up front, but a young player like Kiko Alonso; even though Kiko hasn't been out here full time, he's been out there just doing a little bit with some individual and some 7-on-7 here and there. He's on the progression like a lot of other young guys.
By The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: June 9, 2014 04:05:01 PM
Bills move Alonso to OLB in new defense
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