Sean McDermott’s Comment on Kaiir Elam’s Chance to Play Turns Heads

Kaiir Elam

Getty Bills cornerback Kaiir Elam at Arrowhead Stadium on October 16, 2022.

While the Buffalo Bills should be elated after defeating the Miami Dolphins 48-20 in Week 3, it was hard to celebrate after cornerback Tre’Davious White was carted off the field in the third quarter of the game.

Bills head coach Sean McDermott confirmed that White tore his Achilles and would miss the rest of the season during a press conference on Monday, October 2, heartbreaking news considering the 28-year-old had finally returned to All-Pro form after suffering a torn ACL on Thanksgiving Day in 2021.

With White officially done for the year, it was largely assumed the team would finally activate cornerback Kaiir Elam, the player the Bills traded up to land in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft, and who’s been a healthy scratch for the past four weeks.

However, McDermott did not commit to Elam getting the nod behind Christian Benford, their sixth-round pick from the 2022 NFL draft, and fourth-year veteran Dane Jackson.

“I mean it’s a long year. So we always talk about needing more than just 53 and when your number is called you need to be both physically and mentally ready to go… In this case with Kaiir, it’s an opportunity. It’s how you handle it now, right? He will be in the mix and we’ll see where it goes.”

When McDermott was asked if he’s expected more from Elam at this point, “I think when there’s good competition it makes it hard,” he said. “There are no free passes here. You know how we do things. No matter where you’re picked or what you’re paid, you have to earn your spot.

“Just because he hasn’t been active doesn’t mean we’re not confident in Kaiir. We’re extremely confident in Kaiir. To this point, just a few players have outperformed him. So, now his chance could come. We’ll see where it goes. But it’s important he has a good week of practice this week and we’ll see where that leads us to before the game.”

Sean McDermott Didn’t Rule Out Picking Up a CB in Free Agency

While it’s impossible to replace White, with Benford day-to-day after suffering a should injury against the Dolphins, McDermott didn’t rule out signing a free agent cornerback or facilitating a trade in order to add depth at the position.

However, he noted, “We remain confident in the guys we have in our building, whether they’re active or, in this case, a practice squad guy.” The Bills have two cornerbacks on their practice squad, Kyron Brown and Ja’Marcus Ingram.

This statement likely wasn’t music to Elam’s ears, but the 22-year-old received a high compliment from Bills assistant head coach Eric Washington, who said the Florida alum has remained “extremely professional” this season.

“Kaiir has worked hard in practice — he had an interception in practice last week,” Washington told reporters on Monday. “He’s been a part of the defensive reps and he’s a person who has not strayed from the group.” However, Washington stopped short of confirming Elam would be active against the Jacksonville Jaguars for Buffalo’s “home” game in London in Week 5.

“Kaiir knows how this business works and he knows that at any point, you may be called to step up and function as if you’ve been in there the entire time. What I’ve seen is someone who’s been taking advantage of every practice rep and opportunity to make sure his readiness is where it needs to be.”

Kaiir Elam Remains Committed to Making Things Work in Buffalo
Despite his demotion, Elam said, “Of course,” when asked by The Buffalo News if he’s still looking to make things work in Buffalo.

“It’s the team that drafted me. I love (general manager) Brandon Beane and his belief in me and I love the town of Buffalo. The people here, I’ve never been anywhere like this, where the people really care. I’m going to continue to work my butt off. This is the team that took a chance on me, believed in me, and drafted me. I think I can help us win. I just have to keep competing.”

Before the season started, Benford, the Bills’ sixth-round pick from the 2022 NFL draft, won the starting job opposite White, while Taron Johnson remained in the nickel slot. With Jackson’s ability to contribute on special teams, Elam, who signed a four-year, $13.69 million contract last year, was the odd man out.

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