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New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills week, day 3: What's up with DE Aaron Schobel?

It's day 3 folks, and I'm starting to get stoked, really stoked.  MNF is getting closer and closer by the minute.  As you know, we take on our division rivals, the Buffalo Bills.  It's gonna be an event with AFL throwback uniforms, a halftime show featuring Tedy Bruschi, and Shawn Springs vs. T.O.  But nothing about Mr. Popcorn...yet.  I was curious how the defensive end situation was shaping up.  Aaron Schobel suffered a Lisfranc injury in Game 4 of 2008 and was out for the season.  Rookie Aaron Maybin missed a month of training camp in a contract holdout.  As usual head writer Brian Galliford of Buffalo Rumblings gives us the skinny on the DE situation.  Thanks Brian.

Q: After playing only five games in 2008, DE Aaron Schobel was out with a Lisfranc injury.  It's a bit ironic that his season ending injury coincides with the end of the would be juggernaut that could've been the Bills 2008 season.  Now, the whole year doesn't hinge on one player, but I'm just sayin...  Reading through his statements in the media, he appears to be back and hungry.  Is Schobel the most important return of the Bills' roster?  Adding rookie monster Aaron Maybin into the mix, what do you think of the Bills' pass rushing threat?

Yeah, I think it's pretty safe to say that no single player returning from last year's massive IR list has the potential to brighten this team's defensive outlook than Schobel.  That's not saying a lot, however; the defense rarely turned in game-changing plays in 2008, and Schobel's skills have declined to the point where defenses no longer have to concentrate resources on every play to stop him.  That's not to say that Schobel can't be an effective player; he just can't carry a defense, and it's arguable that he never could to begin with.

Maybin has had a strong pre-season, but he's still trying to make up ground after a month-long holdout, and he's nowhere near being anything but a situational pass rusher.  In the pre-season finale against Detroit, he struggled mightily to defend the run (while showing off a seriously quick first step).  If he can contribute to the pass rush in his situational role and make things happen when he's on the field, he'll be an effective rookie - and, perhaps most importantly, he'll make his teammates better, including Schobel.  Between the two, Maybin's presence is far more crucial to the team possibly fielding a competent pass rush than is Schobel's.

Given Schobel's return after a season ending injury and rookie Maybin's holdout and lack of NFL reps, this could be a rough ride for Buffalo.  I value DE's in a 4-3 and think they need to be one of the strongest players on the defense.  Maybin may surprise us and Schobel could've recovered quickly but, as a Pats fan, I'm hoping that's not the case.

Thanks to Brian Galliford for the info about his favorite team.  Check out Buffalo Rumblings for my answers to Brian's questions about our secondary.  It could be a bumpy ride.