Cordy Glenn doesn’t see the point in spending a whole lot of time focusing on matters beyond his control.
Whether it’s being at left or right offensive tackle for the Buffalo Bills or his ability to maintain his starting job, Glenn chooses to avoid assumptions and live in the moment.
Coach Rex Ryan might be saying that Glenn is likely to remain at left tackle, where Glenn has been a regular starter for the Bills since they made him a second-round draft pick from Georgia in 2012. But Glenn knows that he spent much of the offseason practices alternating between left and right tackle with Seantrel Henderson, who started all of last season on the right side.
“You’re a player, you just need to go out there and play,” Glenn said. “It’s like, ‘OK, this is where I’m at today.’ ”
He was at left tackle for all three of the Bills’ mandatory minicamp workouts, the final set of group sessions until training camp begins on July 31. However, there is reason to believe some of that had to do with Henderson’s sudden demotion to third string after he failed to arrive for the first practice on June 16 due to a missed flight.
“The way I look at it, when you’re here, you’re trying to help out your team,” Glenn said. “That’s the bottom line, really, trying to win. Anything you’ve got to do to win, you’ve got to do it.”
So he alternated, even though the right side wasn’t as comfortable to him as the left because of the need to “get your muscle memory on the other side.”
The Bills had solid reasons for the flip-flopping routine. They mainly wanted to see how well Henderson, who is entering his second season and offers the greatest upside of any of their linemen because of his remarkable combination of considerable size and athleticism, would apply his physical gifts taking on the more elite pass rushers that left tackles generally face. In a Bills practice, that’s a heavy dose of Jerry Hughes, among the better pass rushers in the NFL, among multiple dominant players they have up front.
Henderson might not have made a convincing enough case to shift to the left in the near future, but – provided he doesn’t play himself off the roster – he could be called on to play there if Glenn were injured. He also could end up there if the Bills were to wind up parting ways with Glenn, whose contract is due to expire after the 2015 season. That also was at least part of the reason Cyrus Kouandjio, another second-year player, received starting reps at right tackle.
The Bills will have difficult choices to make with a list of players whose contracts are nearing expiration that includes Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, and linebacker Nigel Bradham. General Manager Doug Whaley is on record as saying that giving Dareus an extension is a top priority, and it’s something the Bills would like to complete before the start of the season.
Gilmore and Bradham also would appear to be ahead of Glenn in the pecking order as well, given the Bills’ defensive-driven foundation.
But that isn’t Glenn’s concern at the moment. His concern is making himself the best offensive tackle he can be. If he succeeds, everything else will fall into place.
“I think I’ve done a pretty good job of picking up the scheme of things, but it’s still just football without pads on,” he said of his performance during offseason practices. “Until we get the pads on, that’s always the biggest test. I’m just taking it all in and trying to continue to work to get better.
“It’s never going to be perfect, but I guess I’m just making those adjustments every day and just trying to get better every day. It could be as simple as just maybe the day before, the footwork might not have been there, so you might go out there and be like, ‘Oh, well, I’m going to work on my footwork today.’ So after today, if you do well on your footwork, then you’re like, ‘OK, I got better today.’ ”
The man making such determinations for Glenn and his fellow linemen is new Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
Kromer goes about his job differently than the previous two offensive line coaches Glenn has had since he arrived in Buffalo. His approach, at least according to Glenn, is much more detail-oriented. Glenn makes it clear that he and the rest of the line are being held to a higher standard.
“He’s really helping all of us,” Glenn said. “We’re just getting away from just saying, ‘OK, I blocked my guy. Good.’ Because then he’ll say, ‘OK, well, you could have done this and it could have been a lot easier. You could have blocked him three seconds quicker.’ It’s really helping everybody tone their game up and just literally working on your craft and going to the line and knowing what to expect and knowing what to do from the get-go and not really just going out there and saying, ‘OK, I blocked my guy. I’m going on my natural ability.’
“Now you’ve got to go out there, work on things and figure out the tricks of the game.”
In each field and film session during OTAs and minicamp, Kromer schooled his position group on the intricacies of offensive line play.
“Everything,” Glenn said. “Hand placement, how you’re stepping, alignments. I mean, it’s literally everything. It’s awesome just learning something every day and just being able to take something and really always having a way to solve a problem every single day. And there’s always something where you say, ‘Oh, I never thought of that before.’ ”
He’s excited about working in the scheme of new offensive coordinator Greg Roman because of its variety, especially when it comes to the running game. The approach is significantly different than the one the Bills used under previous offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
It isn’t easy to learn, but Glenn anticipates huge benefits when the Bills begin employing it in games.
“I think it’s helpful for us having a nice dynamic and a lot of different ways we can attack the defense,” he said. “It kind of gets you out of, ‘Oh, we’re going up to the line, what is the defense doing?’ And it kind of switches that around to, ‘What is the offense going to do to us?’ Or, ‘How are they going to attack us this play?’
“And that’s good for us. We can attack the defense from every angle, in ways they’re not even expecting. I think it just kind of gets the defense more on their toes instead of just them saying, ‘OK, well, they’re going to hit us with this play 15 times every game.’ ”
Exactly where will Glenn be when the hitting is done? Left tackle? Right tackle?
“I’m just going to come to work and see what happens,” he said. “That’s all I can do.”