Glenn Parker is on one of the hot seats in the Buffalo Bills' offense this season.
The 1996 season was a rough one for Parker and the rest of the Bills' offensive line.
Now Parker has been shifted to a new position -- from tackle to guard on the right side of the line -- and the Bills desperately need him to produce.
The Bills have two big question marks on either side of right guard in center Dusty Zeigler and tackle Corey Louchiey. So they are counting on Parker to be a reliable veteran on the right side.
Reliable veteran is a label Parker held in both 1994 and '95. Can he regain it?
On one hand, the Bills' strong pursuit of free-agent guard Jim Dombrowski was not a vote of confidence in Parker. Dombrowski ultimately was not signed due to an ankle injury.
On the other hand, the shift to guard seems right for Parker. He's 31, there's a bit less ground for him to cover at guard than tackle, and many observers long have considered guard his best position.
"I've been saying for seven years wherever they move me I'm happy," Parker said Thursday at the Fredonia State College training camp. "I'm a team player."
And Parker is optimistic about the Bills' new offensive scheme.
"I love it," he said. "The whole concept of the offense is to take pressure off the line. The old offense was hard. We had five guys to block as many guys as they wanted to bring. And when they brought too many and there was a sack, everybody thought the line was no good. They're trying to help us, and that means a lot to us."
The Bills struggled to run down the stretch of last season and allowed 48 sacks overall, the third most in the league per pass attempt. While the line was not fully responsible for that sack total, it was a reflection on the unit.
Parker, however, rejects the notion that he bore any greater responsibility than anyone else for the team's subpar pass protection.
"I was one of 11 guys out there and troubles came from all directions," he said.
He also says he does not feel a need, after seven NFL seasons, to prove himself to any observers of the team.
"The coaches have stated their confidence in me all along," he said. "Maybe the fans didn't or the media didn't, but the coaches did. So I don't think I have anything to prove."
Offensive line coach Tom Bresnahan is a strong supporter of Parker.
"Certainly last year he became a focal point for the offensive ills of the Bills," Bresnahan said. "And that's totally unfair because he was not the worst lineman. If you were to evaluate line performance, his stats stood above others.
"One obvious thing was he had a bad game the very first game (against the Giants) and it was on national television," Bresnahan said. "But he straightened out after that and played solidly. And the year before he played very, very solidly."
Parker, who weathered calf and back injuries last season (he missed three games), says he enters this season in top condition.
"I'm 304 with 21 percent body fat," he said. "I reported to camp at 21.6. That's pretty low. There might be two guys on the line lower than that."
And he is comfortable at right guard. Parker has started at every line position but center for the Bills. He played right guard as a rookie in '90 and in his second and third seasons. He was left guard in '93. In '94 he had to bail out the Bills at right tackle after the Jerry Crafts experiment failed.
"You have to hold your ground better than you do at tackle, but by the same token you're not moving as much, so it's a bit easier to hold your ground," he said of guard.
Parker isn't planning on moving again this season, but it's not out of the question. If Louchiey were to fail at right tackle or get hurt, Parker would get the call to take his place. Parker also is seeing spot duty as a backup center, just in case of emergency. Jerry Ostroski is the backup to Parker at right guard.
"It's going to depend," Parker said, "on how we pan out over there -- how Corey does and how our young guys do. Right now it looks great, and it looks like I'm not going to have to move."