Jerry Ostroski opened training camp as the starting right tackle and he's now the starting center. Robert Hicks went from the bench to right tackle. Dusty Zeigler went from center, to the bench, to starting right guard.
The Buffalo Bills played another game of musical positions Tuesday when coach Wade Phillips announced that Joe Panos would not be available for Sunday's season opener against the Indianapolis Colts. Zeigler will start in his place and share playing time with Jamie Nails.
Panos has been medically cleared to play despite a bulging disc in his neck, but Phillips opted to keep the six-year veteran on the sidelines for this week at least. Nobody knows what will happen next week and beyond.
"I feel better about it to just hold him out," Phillips said. "I'm not a doctor, and the doctors haven't said that (he couldn't play), but I just feel better doing it."
The Bills obviously don't feel good about Panos' situation after he suffered from a series of stingers and spent time in traction over the last 10 days. He missed the preseason finale against Pittsburgh and has lost strength in his right arm and shoulder.
Panos watched the Bills go through a light workout before visiting doctors again Tuesday. He first suffered the injury nearly two months ago while lifting weights but did not appear to have any problems until recently.
"I would like him to do some rehab work as far as his strength is concerned," Phillips said. "He did lose strength, and that was the problem with his injury. I want him to work on that and just mentally get back into it before I get him into pads."
The injury leaves an opportunity for Zeigler, demoted in the first week of training camp before switching to guard. He and the 354-pound Nails split snaps with the starting offense in practice Tuesday. Both played guard Saturday against the Steelers.
One good thing about Zeigler moving to guard is that he already knows the position. One of his jobs during his 29 starts at center over the previous two seasons was to call out blocking assignments for his fellow linemates. He also played guard throughout most of his career at Notre Dame.
"It helps a lot," he said. "When I'm a guard, I know what the center is doing and I have a great idea what the tackle is doing. I think it's an advantage."
Zeigler thought his days in Buffalo were numbered after he was yanked from the starting lineup and replaced by Ostroski. Zeigler, who is still bothered by the move, found himself third on the depth chart at guard behind Panos and Nails. Nails struggled at times throughout training camp, and Zeigler quickly picked up his new position.
"I had the starting job taken away from me," Zeigler said. "Once that kind of thing happens to a player, you start to look at the numbers. You count players on the team and how many guys there are at certain positions. I was doing that. I was looking around trying to find my spot, and it was kind of cloudy."
Now, three of the five spots up front are jumbled going into the season opener. Obviously, the Bills lost some confidence in Zeigler or they would have never moved him. Their faith needs to be restored, and he will need to gain more confidence in himself at the new position.
Ostroski has played well, but he is still learning at center. Hicks remains unproven at tackle. The current group -- Ostroski, Zeigler, Hicks, left tackle John Fina and left guard Ruben Brown -- have never played a full game together. If that's not unsettling, the Bills still don't know for sure when Panos will return.
"We just deal with it. We just go," quarterback Doug Flutie said. "I have full faith and confidence in everybody in front of me that we have here. These guys will find a way to get it done. Dusty's a starter in my mind, anyway. He's looked sharp at guard all camp. That doesn't concern me. The only concern I have is for Joe's health."
The Bills on Tuesday named three players to their five-man practice squad. They are: fullback Brian Edwards, running back Lennox Gordon and wide receiver Jeremy McDaniel.
Edwards had three carries for 9 yards and Gordon had seven carries for 23 yards in the preseason. McDaniel had eight catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.