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Bills hope benching will boost LB Maybin's production

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills linebacker Aaron Maybin's once-promising NFL career has hit a new low.

After spending the past two seasons struggling for playing time as a backup, the team's 2009 first-round pick can't even get on the field.

Maybin was left inactive for the first time in his career for Buffalo's game at Baltimore last weekend. What's worse, the benching coincided with what was supposed to be Maybin's homecoming, with friends and family on hand.

"That's probably been the most frustrating experience since I've been here," Maybin said this week. "I wouldn't necessarily call it a wake-up call, but it's definitely an eye-opener."

Either way, the benching marked the latest setback for a player who has struggled to make a difference for the NFL's only remaining winless team -- and on a defense that's one of the league's most porous.

"I'm not a coach," Maybin said. "It's not my job to decide who's on the field. It's my job to make sure when they call my name, I'm ready to produce."

Maybin's production has been marginal at best, even as he made the move from defensive end to linebacker -- a position that was expected to better suit his abilities as the Bills made the switch to a 3-4 defense this offseason.

Drafted 11th overall out of Penn State for his pass-rushing abilities, Maybin has yet to register a sack in 21 career games, all as a backup. This season, he has been credited with just five tackles, four of them in a 38-30 loss Sept. 26 at New England, the game in which he received his most extensive playing time.

Bills coach Chan Gailey can't say when Maybin's next chance to play might come. The Bills (0-6) travel to face the Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) on Sunday.

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"To be honest with you, it gets harder and harder," Gailey said. "It's not about going out and practicing to see who wins spots right now. If somebody doesn't play well, then you give him another chance. If somebody keeps playing well, he might not get another chance right now."

Maybin officially ranks second on the team's depth chart at outside linebacker, but third-stringer Antonio Coleman, an undrafted rookie free agent, is seeing more playing time because of his role on special teams. The same goes for Arthur Moats, a 2010 sixth-round pick, who also played ahead of Maybin on Sunday.

Gailey said his decision to bench Maybin was more out of practical reasons than a desire to send the player a message.

"We play the people we think are going to help us win. And we felt like those other two outside linebackers gave us a better chance," Gailey said. "Oh, he's upset. He should be. And, hopefully, it'll generate better production the next time he gets an opportunity."

At 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, Maybin is considered undersized for his position. He has had difficulty relying solely on his speed to beat offensive linemen.

"Yeah, he puts himself in a position at times where he gets overmatched," Gailey said. "That's one of the things that productive players do is they don't put themselves in those positions."

Maybin has become the latest example of the Bills' inconsistent drafting history, one of the contributing factors behind why the team already is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for an 11th consecutive season.

Joining Maybin on the inactive list Sunday was another former first-round pick, defensive tackle John McCargo, who was selected 26th overall in 2006. McCargo has yet to appear in a game this season. And then there's Buffalo's 2007 first-round pick, running back Marshawn Lynch, who was traded three weeks ago to the Seattle Seahawks.

Gailey said he hasn't lost faith in Maybin's potential.

"I think every player goes through ups and downs," Gailey said. "You're wrong if you lose faith in a guy. You have to keep coaching him, which we'll do."

Maybin understands he must do better.

"Chan's made it clear: The decisions he's making are what he feels is in the best interest of the team," Maybin said. "So my concern is to make sure the best interest of the team is to make sure I'm on the field."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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