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Could Whitner lose his starting job?

Donte Whitner has performed a variety of roles since getting drafted eighth overall by the Bills in 2006.  He’s played strong safety, nickel cornerback, and free safety.

Now he’s facing the surprising possibility of a new role: reserve.

FoxSports.com reports that Buffalo’s coaching staff is eager to see what rookie second round pick Jairus Byrd can do in training camp.  If Byrd performs well, he could start at free safety, with journeyman Bryan Scott at strong safety.

Whitner was arrested earlier this offseason, but the competition looks to be based on his play.  Buffalo is looking for more playmaking ability in their secondary and believes Byrd, a former cornerback, could provide it.  Whitner has only two interceptions in his career.

If Whitner loses the starting gig, he won’t be moving back to nickel corner.  He’ll be a utility man at both safety spots.

No matter how valuable Whitner’s versatility is, that would be a disappointing role for a player drafted so highly.

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21 Responses to “Could Whitner lose his starting job?”
  1. Blame Canada says: Jul 11, 2009 1:08 PM

    you’ve gone off the deep end florio, there is no way whitner is not the starter. the only question is will it be at SS or FS. he is the heart of the defense and the leader out on the field

  2. Lumas101 says: Jul 11, 2009 1:14 PM

    Um, I wouldn’t count on this happening. At all.
    It’s much more likely that Whitner will fill either role needed. If Byrd is ready to go at free safety, Whitner steps in at strong safety. If Byrd isn’t ready, Whitner will play free safety with Scott taking the strong safety position.
    It’s also likely that the Bills switch back and forth, depending on the opponent. A team that is more successful running the ball will probably see Whitner and Scott, while a passing team would likely see Whitner and Byrd.
    I highly doubt Whitner gets relegated to a reserve role.

  3. MattRichWarren says: Jul 11, 2009 1:23 PM

    Scott would not keep Whitner off the field. If Byrd does start at free safety, something I highly doubt at the beginning of the year, Whitner would be in instead of Scott. Whitner came in as a strong safety and has played there most of his career. FoxSports and Rosenthal are wrong here.

  4. GTorlone says: Jul 11, 2009 1:24 PM

    Whitner is not going to lose his starting job. They are teaching him the FS spot because Byrd won’t be the full-time guy at FS in his rookie year. If they deem Byrd ready, Whitner will stay at SS and Bryan Scott will be the reserve. If Byrd isn’t ready, you will see Scott at SS and Whitner at FS until Byrd is ready.

  5. Blame Canada says: Jul 11, 2009 1:26 PM

    no way he loses his job

  6. The_Philster says: Jul 11, 2009 1:58 PM

    stuff like this is why the majority of intelligent football fans laugh at anything that’s reported by PFT. When Byrd gets the starting FS spot, Whitner moves back to SS and Scott to the bench. The only time Donte plays utility will be on some dime packages when they shift him over to cover a slot receiver or something and Scott takes SS

  7. fay says: Jul 11, 2009 2:05 PM

    He wont lose his job because they pay him too much money and drafted him too high.
    They are simply grooming his replacement for when it’s time for Whitner to get a new deal.
    Whitner, like most of former General Manager Marv Levy’s picks/moves, leaves much to be desired.

  8. Gregg Rosenthal says: Jul 11, 2009 2:06 PM

    I agree it would be very surprising; that’s why I posted. But the Fox report is from a Bills beat writer and Bills.com’s chris brown carefully alludes to the possibility as well. I trust the move is a possibility if they say so.

  9. Ghost2thePost says: Jul 11, 2009 2:10 PM

    Hope it happens. Send him to Oakland for Huff and a 4th rdr.

  10. clintdogg says: Jul 11, 2009 2:21 PM

    That would be robbery. Whitner is a viable starter on almost any team, and still has HUGE upside as a guy who’s barely older than most of the draft picks from this year.

  11. billsman78 says: Jul 11, 2009 2:32 PM

    what a joke bryan scott start over whitner?lol if byrd does start whitner moves over to ss where he began.i love pft talk but its stupid articles like this that twist the truth to make you talk about this site.pathetic

  12. BAZ5207 says: Jul 11, 2009 3:03 PM

    Donte’s play doesn’t back up all of his talk. He isn’t a difference maker on the field. If he was a 3rd or 4th round pick I don’t think as many people would be defending him. I’d like to see him have to fight to save his job. He seems to be a little too comfortable. The face that he finds the mere possibility of a position battle as laughable (see his recent Twitter posts … ‘me lose my job lol’) shows me that some competition could serve him well.

  13. Buffalo Hogan says: Jul 11, 2009 5:48 PM

    Commandment 1: thou shall not doubt florio
    one exception: this post. Florio can this clown rosenrhal.
    The bills for months have been hoping to slide whitner to ss when Byrd is ready.

  14. ChadGLoff says: Jul 11, 2009 5:51 PM

    This is probably the most ridiculous article I have ever read on this site. There’s no way Bryan Scott beats out Donte Whitner, Whitner is the captain of the defense. If Bryd is ready, Whitner plays SS. If Byrd is not, he plays FS. Rosenthal, you tried to say Chris Brown even mentioned Whitner to be a reserve…here is a quote from his blog…
    “CB: I think the safeties that make the roster are Whitner, Scott, Byrd, Wilson and Wendling. Wilson and Wendling because of their value to special teams. If Byrd comes along quickly and has a monster camp he could start at FS which would move Whitner to full time SS. If Byrd takes longer to develop, Whitner will be the FS and Bryan Scott the SS.”

  15. DoBetterFlo says: Jul 11, 2009 5:52 PM

    If you mean by “Bills.com’s chris brown carefully alludes to the possibility as well.” That he actually alludes to nothing other than Whitner not being part of the Nickel CB race, then yes, you would be correct.
    It’d be really nice to know which beat writer as well, FoxSports is a sham as it is.

  16. Jungle Juice says: Jul 11, 2009 6:02 PM

    I guess when news is slow you gotta just make stuff up.

  17. Reddog says: Jul 11, 2009 6:23 PM

    BAZ5207 has it right! Whitner is totally overrated and not a difference maker as a safety much less the high impact player you would expect as the number 8 pick in the first round. He may not lose his starting job, but he has done nothing in his first 3 years to deserve a big contract when he becomes a free agent. Just 1 more overrated player on what will be a pathetic team. I have been a Bills fan for 30 years, but 2009 will be a 3-13 season as the schedule will be much tougher than last year. This team needs a new owner, GM, and certainly a new coach….Dick Mauron sucks!

  18. The_Philster says: Jul 11, 2009 6:30 PM

    Little word of advice…if you’re gonna accuse Chris Brown of alluding something, either have proof of this or make sure there’s no proof that you’re lying.

  19. BuffaloTailgater says: Jul 11, 2009 6:50 PM

    WOW rosenthal you obviously don’t know anything about the Bills…. i’ve been coming to PFT well before they were mainstream and this is by far the most idiotic post i’ve ever seen (i 100% mean that)…. it was so bad this is the first time in about 5 (probably longer?) years i ever even thought about registering so i could post a comment….. Florio, you made a name for yourself by getting things right or very close to right….. this is about as right as someone thinking jackson is gonna beat out favre in minnesota or rush limbaugh (spelling?) is a well rounded guy (thinking wise, that is)…. you need to check this guy’s work from now on….. i read all of chris brown’s articles and he never mentioned anything anyone this side of an 80 IQ would think that anyone on the Bills roster could beat out whitner….. i know whitner isn’t nearly as good as his mouth and doesn’t make plays buts he’s still an above average player / border line pro bowler….. what a joke of an article….

  20. AmishGangsta says: Jul 11, 2009 8:46 PM

    Although I know little about the Bills or Whitner, I have seen a similar situation play out with my Colt’s. They had Bob Sanders and Mike Doss penciled in as starters in 06, when they drafted a little known safety out of Howard named Antoine Bethea in the 6th round. He had the size and strength of a 2nd or 3rd round pick but because he was from a small school, he fell all the way to the 6th.
    Well, he flat outplayed Doss in TC and was installed as the starter by opening day, where’s he’s been ever since. Doss was released at the end of camp that year.
    Sounds like a similar situation with the Bills, if this story has any merit whatsoever, which I’m starting to doubt as I read the comments.

  21. BIG Z says: Jul 11, 2009 10:00 PM

    If Whitner played as hard as he partied in the off season we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Maybe the taz from Cleveland’s finest will have knocked some sense into him and he’ll start making big plays on a routine basis. Then again it might be hard to make plays when he’s suspended by the Commish for being a goofball punk.

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