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Buffalo Bills Position Battle Spotlight: Safety

What do the Bills have behind starters Poyer and Hyde? They'd like to find out a lot more about that before the season starts.
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Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde are heading into their sixth season with the Buffalo Bills with a widely recognized reputation as the finest safety tandem in the NFL.

They handle all the snaps, rarely let the ball go over their heads and are proven tacklers who produce turnovers. In Hyde's case, he was willing (and more than able) to add return duties to his responsibilities when coach Sean McDermott lost confidence in everyone else he had by the end of last season.

Poyer is coming off his first All-Pro season.

However, all good things must come to an end, which for this duo might be as early as next year if an extension can't be worked out with Poyer, 31, who is entering the final year of his contract.

Hyde, 31, also is due for a renegotiation because the final year of his contract is next season, when his salary cap hit spikes from $5.6 million to $10.8 million.

That brings us to the verge of this year's training camp, in which the Bills must have at least one eye fixed upon the future.

Do they have the successors on the roster already? Who's the first one to go in if one of the starters goes down? Will the Bills need to bring in additional veteran depth help?

Beyond Poyer and Hyde, here are the safeties vying for the extra spots on the roster:

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  • Damar Hamlin
  • Jaquan Johnson
  • Josh Thomas
  • Nick McCloud

Johnson has the most experience. Hamlin may provide the most interesting study, according to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who said during OTAs that Hamlin was "still developing, still finding his way."

Poyer and Hyde skipped OTAs, which gave the Bills a chance to more thoroughly evaluate their depth. But the true test won't come until the pads are on and the preseason games are played and players show what they can do when they're in pain, which is the default setting for everyone once the season starts.

The Bills are hoping their safety depth won't be tested again this season, but they must get a handle on what they have because they can't afford to take a chance and will have to go after a veteran if they don't have enough.

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Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro. Email to Nicky300@aol.com