Gailey calls out first-rounder Aaron Maybin

Bills head coach Chan Gailey says 2009 first-round choice Aaron Maybin has "got to get his own fire going." AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt

NEW ORLEANS -- Buffalo Bills head coach Chan Gailey appeared to gather himself when talking about 2009 first-round draft choice Aaron Maybin.

Gailey sat up a little straighter in his chair, cleared his throat, narrowed his eyes and spoke a little more sharply.

He's a straight shooter. And you could almost see Gailey inserting verbal bullets into the revolver.

Gailey delivered strong words Tuesday morning at the NFL coaches' media breakfast, a traditional event during the annual owners meeting. Gailey declared it was put-up-or-shut-up time for Maybin, an alleged edge rusher who "hasn't shown it in practice or in games."

Maybin knows what's expected of him, Gailey insisted. The kid just hasn't done it.

To be clear, I asked whether the failure came down to Maybin not trying hard enough or simply not being good enough.

"I think he wants to. I think he wants to," Gailey said, leaving pauses between each sentence. "He works at it. I'm glad you [asked that]. I don't want anybody to think he doesn't work at it."

Another pause.

So that must mean he's not good enough, I deduced aloud.

Gailey didn't blink.

"I don't want anybody to think he doesn't work at it," Gailey replied with a raised-brow expression that confirmed the unspoken point had found its bull's-eye.

Gailey's frustration is obvious when it comes to Maybin. Bills fans aren't too pleased either.

Maybin, the 11th overall selection in 2009, has started one NFL game. He was selected to chase quarterbacks, yet has zero sacks. Other prospects still on the draft board when the Bills took Maybin included Brian Orakpo and Clay Matthews.

The Bills were enamored with Maybin's one good season at Penn State. He didn't become Joe Paterno's starter at left defensive end until the third game but recorded 12 sacks and 20 tackles for losses. Maybin was named an All-American and was one of three finalists for the Bednarik Award.

"We all know his speed," Gailey said. "He tried to get bigger as the season went on to handle the run better. But it's more than just getting bigger."

Maybin entered the draft with two years of eligibility left. His game hasn't translated.

Since Maybin entered the NFL, 797 players have recorded at least a half-sack. Of that group, 132 weren't drafted.

"I don't think I've lit very many fires," Gailey said. "We might provide a spark, but he's got to get his own fire going.

"He's got to understand where he is. I always talk to guys about 'This is where we are. This is where we want to be, and this is how we get there.' Individually, guys have got to do that. 'This is where I am. This is where I want to be. Now, how do I get there?'

"We tell him all the time how to get there. He's got to do it. Talking's over. You've got to go get it done."

Maybin was a healthy scratch fives times last year, watching in street clothes. The Bills credited him with four solo tackles. So he must have competed on special teams, right? No, he had zero tackles there.

Bills general manager Buddy Nix said at the NFL scouting combine last month the Bills won't cut Maybin. Nix insisted they will find a way to use him somehow, somewhere.

What Maybin might have going for him is he has considerable room to mature. He turns 23 in two weeks. His progress was stunted by missing his entire rookie training camp, eventually signing a five-year deal worth as much as $25 million. He quickly needed to absorb Dick Jauron's 4-3 defensive system and then had to switch to 3-4 outside linebacker last year under new defensive coordinator George Edwards.

"Right now all it is is potential because he hasn't shown it in practice or in games," Gailey said. "He's got to understand about pass-rush. He's got to understand about leverage and changing direction and not running past the quarterback and all those little things that go into a great pass-rusher's feel for beating an offensive tackle and getting to the passer. He's got to be a better special-teams player. He's got to be better versus the run."

That pretty much covers it.