By Nick Richardson @NickSonofDave on May 23, 2014
As NFL teams head into OTAs, many players are looking to cement their spots in the starting lineup, while other job competitions are just starting to heat up. Here are several players for the Buffalo Bills who the team should be hoping to come out on top as starters at their respective positions.
This isn't truly a battle for the starting spot as the Bills will rely on both Spiller and Fred Jackson heavily this year. However, seeing as both players are entering contract seasons, it would be in the team’s best interest for Spiller to see more action. Spiller has shown flashes of greatness, but has yet to fully cement him self as a No. 1 running back. This season will likely be his last chance to do that with the Bills.
Buffalo’s offensive line was decimated by injuries last year, and it showed as the team gave up a whopping 48 sacks in 2013. Urbik has been the team’s starting right guard for the most part during the past few seasons. The Bills spent a lot of effort on improving the offensive line this offseason. Their new additions will have a chance to play, but Urbik should be the opening day starter at RG until some of their younger players are ready.
The Bills had one of the best pass-rush units in the league last year, setting a franchise record for sacks in a season. Jerry Hughes had a breakout season, notching 10 sacks. However, the departure of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has left the spot opposite Mario Williams open. While the Bills could get to the QB, their run defense was poor. Branch offers a better option in the run game than Hughes, who can still be used situationally.
The Bills had to be excited when Kouandjio fell to them in the second round of this month’s draft. He will be given a chance to start immediately, and the Bills would be wise to give him that chance. Buffalo’s pass protection was awful last year, with Erik Pears a notable weak link at the right tackle spot. The Bills’ No. 1 priority is making sure E.J. Manuel stays healthy and upright, and Kouandjio represents the best bet to help with that.
With Sammy Watkins entrenched as the No. 1 wideout, the Bills have several options to turn to regarding the No. 2 spot. Robert Woods and Mike Williams are expected to compete for the job. Williams may be more naturally talented, but Woods had a good connection with E.J. Manuel last season. In addition, Woods was a second-round pick last year, and the Bills will want to make good on their investment in Woods.
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