His role on the Buffalo Bills’ front four isn’t yet worthy of a superhero nickname, but “Megahand” is making a welcome contribution to the team’s defensive line.
“Megahand” is Alex Carrington, whose nickname was bestowed upon him by receiver Stevie Johnson after Carrington’s game-saving field-goal block in Arizona two months ago.
The past month Carrington has been making himself conspicuous on defense. He had his best game of the season in Sunday’s win over Jacksonville. Carrington had two quarterback takedowns, batted down a pass at the line and had four total tackles.
“It was good to have him actively involved — getting tackles for losses, batting passes, sacks and all of that kind of stuff,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said. “That is good. The more good players we can have in there, the better our rotation is (on the defensive line) and the better it makes us on defense.”
Carrington is a former third-round draft pick who is trying to cement his role as a quality backup in his third season. He is averaging 22 plays a game, or about a third of the defensive snaps. That’s down from last season, when he averaged 30 snaps a game, or 48 percent of the defensive plays.
But Carrington is more satisfied with his performance this season, because he’s settled in one spot — defensive tackle.
In the 3-4 defense the team used last year, injuries prompted the Bills to play Carrington as a stand-up outside linebacker, a defensive end and a defensive tackle. He was all over the place.
“I’ve just been able to hone in and learn more about the D-tackle position,” Carrington said. “You have to know every position across the board (meaning end and tackle), but it’s definitely helped my progress, just being able to focus in and try to master my craft.”
Carrington was not a fit at stand-up linebacker, but the Bills were desperate after Shawne Merriman went down with an injury early in the season. Carrington expressed his desire to stay mostly inside with defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt and defensive line coach Giff Smith before spring practices this year.
“Last year I had beefed up a little bit, thinking I was going to play D-tackle, and then I was 315 at outside linebacker,” Carrington said. “It was a bit of a challenge, but whatever the team needs I’m willing to do it. It was good learning for me to play from outside in.”
Carrington likes aggressively attacking the line of scrimmage in the 4-3, even if it’s against double-team blocks, as opposed to holding a gap in the 3-4.
“Having the coach being more confident in me, boosts my confidence, because I know I can be more aggressive,” Carrington said. “I was thinking too much and it was making me robotic.”
Carrington had one solo sack of the Jaguars’ Chad Henne last week. Carrington also broke through the line to stop a stretch-play run off tackle for a 1-yard loss. Carrington wasn’t effective at Indianapolis two weeks ago but he pushed the pocket some in previous weeks. He had a bat-down against Miami and a couple of good stops against New England. He also blocked a field goal in Houston.
“I’ve been working on my pads and low pad level,” Carrington said. “A lot of credit goes to the guy I’m playing with. If you’ve got ends rushing like we’ve got, you better step up in the pocket. Stepping up increases the chances for us to get a sack.”
As for his biggest play — the block of Jay Feely’s 38-yard attempt at the end of regulation — Carrington says:
“We knew we had a good chance to block it when we were watching film that week. We had a double push on. [Kelvin] Sheppard was pushing me, and we had big Marcell (Dareus) beside me. I was able to get a surge, hit the ball and get myself a nickname.”