--Nobody's celebrating the change in coaching regimes more than second-year defender Aaron Maybin.
Coach Chan Gailey's announcement that he would be switching Buffalo's defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4 has given Maybin, the 11th overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft who struggled through a disappointing rookie campaign, a new lease on his football life.
The switch in schemes means Maybin moves from an undersized defensive end to a big outside linebacker. Now Maybin's got to prove he can excel at his new assignment.
"I think the system's perfect for me," Maybin said during a break in offseason conditioning workouts. "I've been telling people for weeks. I couldn't be more excited about this season coming up."
Anything has to be better than last season.
A long contract holdout meant he was always playing catch up in former defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's eyes. Then, at 6-4 and around 240 pounds, it became evident very quickly he was a kid playing in traffic trying to get to the quarterback surrounded by players 100 pounds heavier than he was.
Maybin averaged just 14 snaps per game and wound up with 16 tackles, no sacks, no pressures, no quarterback hits.
The "bust" label was quickly applied by the media but was it fair? Maybin doesn't care to reflect backward, his focus is on the future and proving he was worthy of his draft status. In his only full season at Penn State in 2008, he registered 12 sacks and 20 tackles for loss. With his size and speed - he's a workout warrior who also employs martial arts and kick boxing training - he's confident he can be used effectively by the Bills' new staff, either rushing the QB or covering running backs and tight ends.
"When you run a 3-4 defense it just gives you the opportunity to throw so many different things at the offense," Maybin said. "When you run 4-3 packages you're a little bit more limited in certain things you can do from a blitz perspective and certain looks that you can give.
"When you run a 3-4 defense, the offense, it's really hard for them to match up with a lot of the guys, especially when you have a lot of the athletes that we have on this team. Athletically it's going to definitely create a lot of matchup (problems) for some teams."
One knock on Maybin coming out of college was that he was a "tweener" -- too small for defensive end, too slow to play outside linebacker. He said he won't have a problem in coverage and shouldn't have to come off the field.
"It's nothing to worry about," he said. "I don't think there are too many guys that are going to be running past me so I'll be all right."
Maybin, who said his weight is in the mid-240s right now, would like to add some more bulk as long as it's good, functional weight. Keeping weight on has been his problem.
"I feel fast enough right now where I can gain another five to 10 pounds and still be as fast as I am right now," he said. "Obviously that's going to be up to our coaches and our strength and conditioning coaches, but before OTAs and mini-camps and everything started up I just wanted to make sure that physically I was at a place where I could do whatever they wanted me to do."
Nobody's ever questioned Maybin's desire and work ethic.
"Right now this year, my motto is just going to be let my play do the talking," he said. "The coaches will do what they need to do to get us in position to make the plays and when my name is called it's time to do work so I've got to go out there and make things happen."
Copyright (C) 2010 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.