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Marcus Easley hopes to play a key role with the Buffalo Bills next season.
Former UConn wide receiver Marcus Easley has had a rough start to his NFL career. The fourth-round pick of the Bills in 2010, Easley missed his rookie season after suffering a knee injury in training camp. Last season, the plan was for him to line up opposite WR Stevie Johnson but Easley again ended up on injured reserve, this time with a heart condition. But he got some good news last December: head coach Chan Gailey said there was no question that Easley would be cleared to play in 2012.
Which brings us to the Bills' offseason. They've already re-signed Johnson (not to mention landing the league's best defensive player, Mario Williams) and now the question becomes: who will be Buffalo's No. 2 receiver?
The Buffalo News lists the crop of candidates:
The Bills re-signed Derek Hagan on Monday, giving them nine wideouts on the roster, not including Brad Smith, the quarterback-utilityman. It will be a big competition for the starting outside job opposite Stevie Johnson. Right now, they top candidates are Donald Jones, Marcus Easley, David Clowney and Hagan. Easley ran a 4.39 in the 40 coming out of college. Clowney ran a 4.36. Hagan has good size (6-foot-2 and 215 pounds) and runs pretty well. He ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash coming out of college. He was a third-round pick of the Dolphins in 2006 but washed out of Miami after a little over two seasons.
For now, Easley appears to have the inside track. The Bills blog, Buffalo Rumblings, asked readers who they liked as the No. 2 WR and Easley grabbed 53 percent of the vote (out of 3,238 total votes cast).
But this draft is deep with wideouts and Easley hasn't yet played one down in a regular-season game. The News writes that possible targets could include "Iowa's Marvin McNutt, Miami's Tommy Streeter, Wake Forest's Chris Givens, California's Marvin Jones and Wisconsin's Nick Toon."
Easley's chances appear pretty good and it helps that general manager Buddy Nix said last week that the team won't pursue any other receivers in free agency. Still, despite the setbacks, we suspect Easley will be ready to seize his chance this summer.
Here's what he said last summer, after he recovered from the knee injury but prior to a heart condition forced him to miss 2011: "As crazy as it sounds, nothing ever went as planned for me pretty much my whole career," he said. "It's yet just another obstacle for me to overcome."