Bills Position Battles Heading Into Organized Team Activities

Michael LicataContributor IMay 8, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, NY - MAY 01: Andy Levitre #67 and Eric Wood #70 of the Buffalo Bills listen to lineman coach Sean Kugler during Buffalo Bills Minicamp at Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse on May 1, 2009 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

The Buffalo Bills face a lot of uncertainties heading into organized team activities. Newly minted interior offensive linemen Eric Wood and Andy Levitre are set to become the starters at left and right guard with free agent pickup Geoff Hangartner anchoring the middle at center.

The question remains, who replaces All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters. The Bills coaching staff is set on moving Langston Walker from right tackle to left, which he did in the first game of the 2008 season. He did a favorable job and Brad Butler seems like a good fit filling in at right tackle for Walker this season. The depth of the offensive line is somewhat of a concern to Bills fans because of the raw talent of 2008 draft pick Demetrius Bell. Kirk Chambers fills in as the other reserve tackle position. Peters holdout during training camp and into the start of the season helped both these men in developing their technique through many reps in preseason. There is also the possibility of recently released Levi Jones signing with the Bills, but I'm not sure the Bills would want to spend a lot more money on the offensive line.  

A lot of the success the Bills have this season will depend on how well Wood and Levitre perform. They seem like capable starters and Wood plays will a real mean streak. It's important to because the Bills face a lot of tough interior lineman within in their own division.It's going to be up to the two rookies and Hangartner to open holes by pushing aside the likes of Kris Jenkins, Vince Wilfork and Jason Ferguson.

The battle for free safety should be another key battle heading into OTAs. Jairus Byrd was selected because of his tremendous ball hawking skills, highlighted by his 17 interceptions in three years while at Oregon. He should get the inside track in the free safety position. Byrd will get serious competition from current strong safety Ko Simpson. Simpson understands the defensive schemes, but his range, lack of interceptions and off the field occurrences have severely hindered his chance to retain the starting spot.

The starting outside linebacker spot is the most intriguing for Bills fans because not much was done. The team brought in Cato June and Freddie Keiaho for visits, but neither put pen to paper. Keith Ellison might make strides as the starter, but I'm still waiting for the tackling ability needed to make up for lack of size.

The coaching staff must really be high on 2008 draft pick Alvin Bowen, but it's going to take at least two seasons to regain a lot of speed and range when dealing with an Achilles injury. Bowen might compete for a backup spot with Nick Harris. Harris has tremendous upside because they're converting him from safety to linebacker. He could have a chance to start if he picks up the defense quickly.

These are just capsules of some of the battles heading into OTAs. The Bills coaching staff must get every player on the roster prepared to play this season. It should be fun to watch for Bills fans.


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