Jamaal Westerman and Stefan Charles will be in familiar surroundings when the Bills take on the Falcons December 1 at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
The two hulking defenders, who grew up in the Greater Toronto Area, were both signed as unrestricted free agents by the Bills this season.
Westerman, who grew up in Brampton, Ontario, was first signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jets in 2009. As rookie he helped his team defeat the Bills in one of the first Bills Toronto Series games played at Rogers Centre.
Since then the six-foot-three, 250-pound linebacker has recorded more than 50 tackles and 5 sacks in 45 career NFL games with the Jets, Cardinals and Colts. He spent the 2012 offseason with the Dolphins but was released before the season started. The Bills signed him in August.
Charles, a six-foot-three, 323-pound defensive tackle who played collegiately at the University of Regina, was signed as a free agent by the Bills in October. The 25-year-old rookie was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Titans in April.
The Oshawa, Ontario made an impact in his first game as a Bill, recording back-to-back tackles of Chiefs runningback Jamaal Charles on November 3.
As Sun Media’s John Kryk points out in a recent column, Charles grew up a Bills fan in east-end Scarborough. He then moved to Oshawa for high school.
“Yeah, that was the first football jersey I had — Willis McGahee. I’ve got it in my closet today still,” Charles told Kryk.
“It is a blessing that I’m here. I wouldn’t be happier anywhere else.”
Kryk’s piece: http://www.torontosun.com/2013/11/03/a-bills-fan-growing-up-in-toronto-area-charles-makes-nfl-debut-with-them
Bills coach Doug Marrone was impressed with Charles’ debut (five plays) against the chiefs.
“We were excited about that,” Marrone told Buffalo News reporter Jay Skurski after the Chiefs game. “You never really know. You see someone who’s big, you see someone that can move, and actually for a big guy has some pass-rush ability. You like all those things when you see them on film, but he hasn’t been in your scheme and played for you where you’re able to evaluate him.”
“The tough part is knowing the system. We made sure when we put him in there, he was next to guys that can help him a little bit,” Marrone told Skurski. “If the situation comes up where the personnel matches up, yeah, he’s someone we can see getting more and more playing time.”
“It’s going to be interesting. I really like what I see so far, someone that can really blossom into a heck of a player,” Marrone told Shurski. . . . “The tough part is knowing the system. We made sure when we put him in there, he was next to guys that can help him a little bit. If the situation comes up where the personnel matches up, yeah, he’s someone we can see getting more and more playing time.”
According to Skurski Marrone credits Bills General Manager Doug Whaley and director of player personnel Jim Monos “with finding Charles.”
“It’s (Buffalo) like a second home. My family is two hours away. This is the first NFL game I ever went to. It was against the Titans in a preseason game in 2007,” he said. “I’m happy to be a part of this organization. My mom and some other family and friends came down last week. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Charles told Skurski.