Da’Norris Searcy got the good news from the man who got the bad news.
One of the first people George Wilson called after he was released by the Buffalo Bills in February was Searcy, the man with a great shot to take Wilson’s place as the team’s starting strong safety.
“I found out from George himself,” Searcy said. “I was asleep. My wife was like, ‘George just called you.’ I called him back and he was like, ‘My time in Buffalo is done.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
“I just told him from one player to another,” Searcy said, “thank you for all that you’ve taught me and how you helped me grow as a player and as a professional in this league.”
Searcy tutored behind Wilson since being drafted in the fourth round in 2011. The Bills began working Searcy into the lineup more last season, playing him on 25 percent of the defensive snaps.
Now Searcy is hoping to make the next progression in his career and team with Jairus Byrd on the back line of the Bills’ defense. The Bills are likely to add to the safety position in the draft or free agency. Nevertheless, a good chance awaits the 5-foot-11, 216-pounder.
“It is an extremely great opportunity,” Searcy said. “I am going to take it full stride. My confidence is pretty much through the roof right now. I just always come in with the attitude of working and getting better. … It is an opportunity that I plan on seizing.”
Searcy has a powerful build and he’s athletic. He lifted 225 pounds 27 times before the 2011 draft, the best of his safety class. He’s more physical than Wilson, which is why he cut into the 32-year-old veteran’s playing time. Searcy, 24, showed last season some big-hitting ability, which he admits is his best asset.
“Playing in the back end is fun, but I’m more comfortable close to the line of scrimmage,” Searcy acknowledged. “I always told Byrd — I call him Air Man because he’s always back there roaming. He calls me the ground guy because I like to be up close. I like to be an enforcer close to the box.”
Searcy knows he needs to show enough versatility in coverage to be a starter next to Byrd. Searcy ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 and 4.50 seconds – solid times – coming out of the University of North Carolina.
“Both of us being interchangeable is very good,” Searcy said. “I can play the deep middle if I have to. He can play close to the line of scrimmage if he has to.”
Searcy says the increased playing time last season gives him confidence in working with the other defensive backs.
“You aren’t the rookie anymore and you are not the second-year guy,” he said. “You have bigger shoes to fill. Like I said, with George leaving I just am taking it upon myself to be more of a leader and help out back there. With getting Byrd back, I see it as a great thing. You still have two guys that are familiar with each other. I believe with me and him working together, it can give the corners on the outside more confidence because they know they are working with two guys that have been back there before.”
It has been a good offseason all around so far for Searcy, who married to his long-time girlfriend after Wilson’s release.
“It’s great to be back,” he said. “I’m ready to get started.”
The Bills hosted North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon at One Bills Drive on Wednesday. The other draft prospects visiting were outside linebacker Jamie Collins of Southern Mississippi, Clemson safety Jonathan Meeks and Louisiana State receiver Russell Shepard.
Former Bills receiver David Nelson, an unrestricted free agent, is scheduled to visit the Cleveland Browns today.