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Ducasse expects to learn plenty with Bills

The advice was coming from a teammate who was only a couple of years older and had only one more year of NFL experience, but Vladimir Ducasse instantly recognized its validity.

"You should be playing like this guy," Matt Slauson said, pointing to the video monitor.

Ducasse was a rookie guard for the New York Jets. Slauson played the same position. So did "this guy," Richie Incognito, who was with the Miami Dolphins.

In particular, Slauson wanted Ducasse to focus on how Incognito did such a great job of finishing his blocks.

"I mean, you’ll see him like 20 yards down the field just pancaking somebody," Ducasse said. "And it didn’t only happen once in a game; it happened a lot of times. … I was a young guy. ... You didn’t really know how to finish to the whistle, even after the whistle."

The 6-foot-5, 329-pound Ducasse will get to see a lot more of Incognito's finishes in the coming weeks and months. They're teammates now, thanks to the recent free-agent contract Ducasse signed with the Buffalo Bills, whose offensive line has prospered greatly from Incognito's presence the past two years.

"We were always watching when he was in Miami," Ducasse said during his recent introductory news conference.

The watching continued last season, when Ducasse was with the Baltimore Ravens. His offensive line coach was Juan Castillo, who now serves in the same capacity with the Bills.

Castillo wanted his position group to study the critical role that blocking played in helping the Bills rank as the top rushing team in the NFL.

"That got me excited, because a guy like me, my strength is the running game," Ducasse said. "I mean on the offensive line, in the NFL, you need to know how to pass block, too, but my greatest strength is the running game. So seeing this and the great running backs they have, good quarterback, it got me excited to come here because those guys all mean business.

"They’re running the ball. When you run the ball, a lot of stuff will go your way."

Ducasse is realistic about his status with his new team. Incognito is entrenched as the starting left guard. John Miller is fairly solid at right guard. Ducasse will, as he put it, "mostly be a backup," along to Ryan Groy, to whom the Bills gave a two-year, $5-million contract to remain a reserve at center and guard.

"But also competing for a starting job," he said.

Ducasse knows that Castillo will push hard to get the best out of him. That was something he immediately realized while participating in the Senior Bowl after his final season at the University of Massachusetts.

At the time, Castillo was the offensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. He took time at the Senior Bowl to teach Ducasse "all these footwork techniques," lessons that continued a month later at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Castillo wanted the Eagles to draft Ducasse, but the coach didn't get the chance to work with him as a pro until last season in Baltimore.

"When he heard I was available in Baltimore, he took me in and he actually had time to show me (more footwork techniques)," Ducasse said. "… He was telling me that’s what I need to work on. He’s a coach, but his main thing is teaching it, which was good because that actually helped me make a good change in my game."

Being around Incognito only figures to enhance the education.

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