The Buffalo Bills' quick passing attack lead to the offensive line allowing a league low 23 sacks on the year. There is continuity on the interior line with returning starters Andy Levitre, Eric Wood and Kraig Urbik. Let's take a look at how the offensive tackle position pans out.
The Buffalo Bills jumped at the chance to select Cordy Glenn in the 2012 NFL draft, as the 6'5," 343-pounder out of Georgia has played virtually every position on the offensive line. His 50 collegiate starts are tied for the most in the University's history, however just 18 have come protecting the blindside. Glenn has taken all of the first-team reps throughout Offseason Training Activities, and he is hoping to prove the pundits—who saw him strictly as a guard—wrong.
Head coach Chan Gailey seems optimistic about Glenn's chances, stating to BuffaloBills.com:
“He has the ability,” said Gailey of Glenn. ”Now there are a lot of guys with a bunch of ability that are home today. But he has the ability, it’s can he transition that into pads and the speed of the game? Minicamp is just one speed. There’s another speed when you go to at training camp. There’s another speed when you hit preseason games. There’s another speed when you hit the regular season and still another speed when you reach the playoffs. So can you transition with all those speed changes, that’s a different deal. But he and Chris (Hairston) will be working at left tackle. I don’t know who will win that job.”
When Demetress Bell went down with an injury in 2011, rookie Chris Hairston took over the left tackle position and played fairly well. However, that didn't stop general manager Buddy Nix from selecting Cordy Glenn in the second round of the draft to bring in serious competition.
Hairston believes he has a slight edge over Glenn due to his 13 games of playing experience, stating:
“Just being able to play out there against the likes of Osi (Umenyiora), (Jason) Babin, I mean you name it we come against one every week,” Hairston said. ”It was pretty special and I took that experience and tried to really soak it in. This year I want to use it to my best advantage.”
Hairston has been taking reps at right tackle in place of Erik Pears—who was absent from the beginning of OTAs—but it's doubtful he sees any starting time unless there is an injury.
Erik Pears made a splash last year with his surprisingly solid play on the right side of the offensive line. He held his own at the point of attack and was a key factor in the cohesiveness of the Bills' offense. The front office at One Bills Drive saw this and quickly re-signed the seven-year vet to a three-year, $9.3 million contract during the offseason.
However, Pears underwent hernia surgery and wont be available until training camp, which allowed Chris Hairston to see some valuable first-team reps at right tackle.
It's hard to peg fifth-round draft pick Zebrie Sanders at right tackle, as the Bills envision him as a swing tackle—a tackle with the ability to play on opposite sides of the offensive line. General manager Buddy Nix seemed happy with the fact that the Florida State Seminole slid all the way to the fifth round, stating:
“I’ll tell you why he was there I think, he had a bad Senior Bowl,” said Nix. ”He goes to the Senior Bowl. He had tried to lose some weight. They worked him in there at guard and that kind of threw him off. But he didn’t have a good week. I think he scared everybody. He scared us some.
“You couldn’t get it out of your mind. We say all-star games never move a guy up or down, but once you see it it’s hard not to remember that. You go back to his body of work and he played good and he’s got some of that strength back.”
Sanders started 50 out of 53 games at Florida State.
The Bills claimed Sam Young off of waivers following his release from the Dallas Cowboys. Young is still a raw talent after being highly touted coming out of high school and Notre Dame, but appeared in just four games last season with the Bills. Young has great size, standing 6'8" and weighing 322 pounds. He will fight for the No. 2 right tackle position with Zebrie Sanders and James Carmon.
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