PITTSFORD — Uncertain still is the word for the Buffalo Bills offensive line as the team prepares for its first exhibition game Sunday.
The starting left guard is as up in the air as it was when the Bills opened camp 11 days ago. Ditto for the backup jobs, as coach Doug Marrone emphasized when he shifted starting left tackle Cordy Glenn to left guard for Wednesday’s practice. Marrone said it was simply to see if Glenn can swing inside if necessary.
“We’re not experimenting with him not being the left tackle,” Marrone said. “What we’re doing is we know that down the road from now – we’re dressing seven linemen – we’ll have a swing inside player and a swing outside player, a swing tackle and swing center-guard.”
If the sixth-best lineman on the team is a tackle, not a guard, and the Bills are a lot more confident in No. 6 than No. 7, perhaps the best thing to do will be to shift Glenn.
However, it’s not common to have a franchise left tackle work at guard. Glenn has struggled to block speed rusher Jerry Hughes throughout camp so far. The Bills are running a fast-paced, no-huddle offense, which isn’t easy on Glenn, a 6-foot-6, 345-pounder who had a solid rookie season last year. The Bills also are having trouble identifying a replacement for left guard Andy Levitre, who left in free agency.
“I saw what I needed to see, meaning that he can do that and make that transition,” Marrone said. “Now you’ll see him just back there, getting comfortable and ready to play. I didn’t want to do it later on once we started working the preseason games.”
Time will tell if the Bills are tempted to take more looks at Glenn at guard.
After the group of Glenn, center Eric Wood, right guard Kraig Urbik and right tackle Erik Pears, who is the fifth-best offensive lineman on the team? The search still is on.
Thomas Welch played left tackle with the starters Wednesday. Welch is a 6-6, 312-pounder who was a seventh-round pick of the Patriots out of Vanderbilt in 2010. He also spent time with Minnesota, Philadelphia and St. Louis. He has one career start. The Bills signed him last November, and he spent camp before Wednesday playing second-team left tackle.
“I felt good out there today; we’ll see what happens,” Welch said.
Welch, who entered college as a tight end, was a little too light in the Bills’ eyes when he arrived last season.
“I needed to gain some weight,” he said. “I probably gained 15 pounds since I’ve been here. It has really helped my play, being more physical and being more powerful. I’m just more comfortable out there gaining that weight.”
Meanwhile, former Steeler Doug Legursky moved down to second-team left guard for the day. Colin Brown, who opened camp as the first-team left guard but then gave way to Legursky, worked as second-team right guard.
Sam Young, a three-year veteran who started four games for the Bills last season, has been the second-team right tackle. Recently signed Tony Hills got a shot with the second team at left tackle.
Chris Hairston has been the Bills’ third-best tackle each of the last two years. However, he remains on the physically unable to perform list. He ended last season on the injured reserve list due to a foot injury. Hairston does not look close to returning. He’s been walking on the track circling the field during part of practices.