Bills sign LB Klein to practice squad after Kirksey tells team he plans to retire

New England Patriots' James White (28) rushes past Buffalo Bills' A.J. Klein (54) and Trent Murphy (93) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (Adrian Kraus/AP)

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Linebacker A.J. Klein is back in Buffalo after being signed to the Bills practice squad on Thursday to replace Christian Kirksey, who informed the team he intends to retire.

Klein rejoins the Bills after being cut by the team last month. He has 10 seasons of NFL experience and is familiar with the Bills defense after playing for the team in 2020 and ’21 and part of last season.

Klein was a candidate to be signed to the practice squad to start the season before the Bills elected to sign Kirksey, who became available after being cut by Houston last month.

Klein provides the Bills veteran depth at the position behind second-year player Terrel Bernard, who took over the starting job at middle linebacker after Buffalo lost Tremaine Edmunds to free agency.

The 31-year-old Kirksey was selected in the third round of the 2014 draft by Cleveland, and spent his first six seasons playing for the Browns. He played for Green Bay in 2020, and spent the previous two seasons with Houston, where he started 29 games.

Overall, Kirksey had 16 1/2 sacks, seven interceptions and forced four fumbles in 114 games, including 94 starts.

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