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McGee up for the challenge as top Bills cornerback

PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) -When it comes to replacing Nate Clements, Terrence McGee will do his best to match his on-field confidence.

"That's about the only thing I really learned from Nate," said McGee, who became the team's top cornerback when Clements signed with San Francisco as a free agent in March. "You really have to go out there and play with that confidence and that swagger, that you're the best and nobody's going to beat you out there. The more plays you make, the more swagger you get."

McGee's off-field demeanor couldn't be more different from Clements. He's soft-spoken. Clements is more cocky, labeling himself the "playmaker" during six years in Buffalo. Still, the Bills are hoping McGee can become what Clements was for them on the field - a top cornerback.

"He has things to prove, not only to himself but to us," Bills defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said. "He's the veteran of the group, and the guy with experience."

McGee made steady progress in his first three years with the team, but stumbled in 2006, especially during a three-game stretch against Chicago, Detroit and New England when he allowed several big plays. He finished his disappointing season without an interception after getting a combined nine interceptions his previous three years.

The 2003 fourth-round pick is looking forward to lining up against the opposition's top receiver every week, including going head-to-head twice with New England wideout Randy Moss, obtained by the Patriots in a trade with Oakland.

"That's what you're in the NFL for, to play against the best," McGee said. "You've got to feel like if the coaches put you out there, that you're the best yourself. You've just got to get ready for that."

McGee doesn't see himself filling the leadership void left by Clements and linebackers Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher, saying he's not an outspoken person. McGee is taking on a mentor role for the younger defensive backs, including second-year cornerback Ashton Youboty.

"We have a great relationship," said Youboty, who played in only three games his rookie year. "He teaches me and helps me a lot. He knows he's the older guy, and that we look up to him. But he's still himself, and he's concentrating on getting better himself."

Much has changed with the Bills defense since Buffalo finished 2006 with two straight losses, but McGee is taking everything in stride, hoping he'll help the Bills to their first playoff berth since 1999.

"I really don't feel any different," he said. "It feels like Nate's still here. I'm not really excited or anxious or anything. I'm just more anxious about just getting started and working on being a better player. At the end of the season, I want to look back and say I had a good season."

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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