Paul Posluszny left Buffalo after the 2010 season to sign a big free-agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
He admits that if the Bills had accelerated their move to a 4-3 defense, his decision might have been different.
Posluszny, a Bills second-round pick in 2007, returns to Buffalo on Sunday. He spent his first three seasons with Buffalo as the middle linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. The Bills went to a 3-4 defense when Chan Gailey was hired in 2010. But Gailey went back to the 4-3 with new coordinator Dave Wannstedt this year.
Posluszny said the Jaguars’ 4-3 scheme was attractive to him.
“That was a big reason,” Posluszny said on a conference call. “My last year there, going into that 3-4, I didn’t feel like I played well. I didn’t feel like I was a fit. And so I needed to get back to what I knew the best and what I felt like I could play the best football at.”
Posluszny laughed when asked if he had some regret the Bills’ switch to the 4-3 came too late for him.
“I tell you what, especially because I have all the respect in the world for coach Wannstedt,” he said. “He’s a Western Pa. guy.”
“If someone would’ve gave me the heads up that, ‘Hey, there’s changes,’” Posluszny laughed. “But you can’t, you obviously can’t go back now. But yeah, when that happened, I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. Coach Wanntstedt’s there. They’re going back to a 4-3,’ ”
The Jaguars gave Posluszny a six-year, $45 million contract. He stands 12th in the NFL with 92 tackles. He was 12th last year with 119 and third for Buffalo in 2010 with 151.
He’s hopeful Jacksonville is heading for a turnaround, despite the team’s 2-9 record.
“The main thing is when you go somewhere else you want to win,” he said. “I didn’t want to leave Buffalo. But the situation called for it. So it’s tough. I haven’t had success here. The new coaching staff, the new ownership, so a lot of positive things are happening. They’re bringing around a new change. And hopefully down the road this will be a winning organization.”
“When you have a losing record consistently, it’s tough,” Posluszny said. “It wears on you. Obviously, everybody wants to win. You want to go to the playoffs. But that’s something I’ve obviously not been able to experience. Hopefully, somewhere in my career I will.”
Despite having the lowest-ranked offense in the NFL, the Jaguars pose a threat to the Bills’ secondary. The Jaguars’ passing game has revived since veteran Chad Henne took over at quarterback for second-year man Blaine Gabbert. Henne has 615 passing yards in those two games.
Jacksonville’s starting receivers are Justin Blackmon, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, and second-year man Cecil Shorts III, a fourth-round pick out of Division III Mount Union last year.
Both Blackmon and Shorts sat out Thursday’s practice. Blackmon had a sore groin, Shorts a sore hamstring. Both had worked fully Wednesday.
Shorts leads the NFL with a 20.8 yards-per-catch average. Fourteen of his 36 catches have gone for 20 or more yards. He has a TD catch of 50 or more yards in three straight games and four catches of 50-plus yards overall. (Those went for 80, 52, 67 and 59 yards).
“He’s a good yards-after-the-catch guy,” said Bills safety Jairus Byrd. “A lot of their big plays have been runs after the catch.”
“He does a good job of getting open and getting separation from corners,” said cornerback Leodis McKelvin. “They get the ball in his hands and he makes guys miss.”
Blackmon has more than half of his yards the past two weeks. He had seven catches for 236 yards against Houston two weeks ago and five for 62 last week against Tennessee.
“In college he was the offense,” said cornerback Aaron Williams, who faced Blackmon’s Oklahoma State Cowboys . “For every rookie, it’s a slow transition from college to the NFL. I went through it. He’s gone through it. But now you see him catching more balls and making more plays. He’s always been a playmaker.”
Cornerback health is an issue for the Bills. Williams, coming back from a knee injury, was limited in practice for a second straight day. Nickel corner Justin Rogers “tweaked his foot” in Wednesday’s practice and was limited Thursday.
“Aaron came out and did a lot more today,” coach Chan Gailey said. “It’s an outside possibility [he will play], but it’s a possibility.”
Defensive tackle Spencer Johnson sat out due to illness.
Besides Blackmon and Shorts, the other Jacksonville starters who missed practice were running back Maurice Jones-Drew (foot), defensive end Austen Lane (foot) and cornerback Derek Cox (hamstring). Jones-Drew is not expected to play.
The Bills practiced Thursday in stiff winds in Ralph Wilson Stadium. Sunday’s forecast calls for a high of 51 with a 50 percent chance of rain and winds of about 20 mph. Gailey said it’s a benefit to working in the stadium’s swirling wind.