IK Enemkpali could become a starter on the Buffalo defense
A year after IK Enemkpali broke Geno Smith’s jaw while they were teammates, Enemkpali may be taking aim at him in a more traditional sense.
With Smith possibly slated to start for the Jets, who stubbornly refuse to sweeten the pot for Ryan Fitzpatrick, Enemkpali eventually could become a regular -- if not a starter -- for the Buffalo defense.
As explained by Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News, the departure of Mario Williams coupled with the shoulder injury to first-round rookie Shaq Lawson has created an opening for Enemkpali, who needs only to outshine Manny Lawson to earn a starting role.
“IK’s done really well,” coach Rex Ryan said during the offseason program. “We’re bumping guys around and stuff but, yeah, he’ll have a chance. IK is a physical player. He’s doing a much better job in his pass-coverage responsibility. So I could definitely see him pushing for playing time, without question.”
Enemkpali may not even need to beat out Manny Lawson, if Ryan decides Manny Lawson is needed elsewhere. Wherever and how much they play, guys like Manny Lawson and Jerry Hughes and other pre-2015 defenders have learned Ryan’s defense far better than they knew it a year ago.
“Last year, there’d be silence and a lot of questions asked in the locker room,” Manny Lawson said, via Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News. “This year, there’s not silence in the meeting room and no questions being asked in the locker room.”
But that doesn’t mean questions are discouraged.
“If you don’t know something, ask,” Lawson said. “Because it’s only going to help us to know. If one person is out there clueless and doesn’t know what to do, that can be a touchdown for us on the defensive side and that can cost us the game.”
A game blown here or there could be the difference between a postseason berth and yet another failure to make the playoffs. With a failure to make the playoffs this year quite possibly the catalyst for a house cleaning, the players have every reason to do everything they can to know the defense and to execute it as it’s designed.