The offensive line should be an interesting position for the Buffalo Bills. They were solid last year but lost their best lineman in Andy Levitre. They’ve struggled to replace him in the preseason and will have to protect their new franchise quarterback in EJ Manuel. Here’s where I see the OL and TE roster by opening day.
Tight Ends: Scott Chandler (starter), Lee Smith, Chris Gragg – It is a miracle that Chandler will be ready for Week 1. He tore his ACL during a week 16 game against the Miami Dolphins last season but appears to be good to go for the opener. He is a very good, underrated middle of the field option at 6-foot-7 with dependable hands. Smith is the beast of a blocker who can be a red zone threat. Gragg has been inconsistent in camp, but I think the 7th round pick gets a shot. Nick Provo out of Syracuse is the last cut.
Tackles: Cordy Glenn (starter), Erik Pears (starter), Thomas Welch, Sam Young – This one is easy to predict since the 5th tackle, Zebrie Sanders, has already been cut. With last year’s 3rd tackle Chris Hairston on the Reserve/Non-Football list the tackle foursome is all but set. Glenn will look to make strides on his solid rookie season, but he’ll have to do it without Levitre next to him. Pears is a solid vet and Young has performed well in training camp and will likely play the swing tackle role with Welch backing him up.
Guards: Colin Brown (starter), Kraig Urbik (starter), Antoine Caldwell – Veteran Doug Legursky, who was competing with Brown for the starting LG spot, was likely lost for the year in the preseason finale with a knee injury. The microscope will be on Brown who will be replacing Levitre at left guard. Urbik has had a very good three years in Buffalo. Caldwell will be an important guy because Urbik or Brown will back up at center. Young can also play guard in a pinch.
Center: Eric Wood – Wood is the guy at center, although he’s been hurt on and off throughout most of his career. With Levitre gone he is by far the best OL on the Bills. He’s also one of the biggest leaders on the team. It’s important for him to stay healthy, as he’ll be a tremendous asset to Manuel’s learning curve. One of the starting guards would replace him if he got injured, but the Bills are banking a lot on the fact that he can stay in the lineup. It’s also an all-important contract year for him as well.