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Bills appear committed to OLT Bell

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Posted May 22, 2010 @ 11:50 a.m. ET
By Michael Blunda

The 2010 draft gave the Bills the opportunity to continue rebuilding their offensive line, but things didn't quite pan out the way many had expected.

Despite the O-line's significant struggles throughout the 2009 campaign, Buffalo opted to ignore the need early in order to grab playmaking RB C.J. Spiller and bolster the defensive line. It took until Round Five for the club to draft its first offensive lineman — Virginia Tech's Ed Wang, widely considered a developmental talent — too late in the proceedings to secure an instant contributor.

That means the Bills' line will look very similar to the one that finished dead last in quarterback sack percentage a year ago, save for offseason free-agent signing Cornell Green, who will man the right tackle spot. But the former Raider, who turns 34 in August, isn't exactly a massive upgrade over what the team trotted out at that position in '09.

The larger concern, however, comes on the left side, where Demetrius Bell is slated to protect the blind side of whomever wins the QB job. Starting eight games at the OLT spot last season before a torn ACL ended his year, Bell was one of the main reasons Trent Edwards and Ryan Fitzpatrick were sacked so frequently. When asked about the 26-year-old recently, head coach Chan Gailey gave Bell nothing more than a weak vote of confidence.

"Well, right now he would have to be (the starter), because he started and played there until he got hurt," Gailey said. "He had some problems of his own from time to time, he's a work in progress as well and we understand that."

We hear that while Bell lacks football intelligence, the Bills are expecting major improvement from him this season. That's one of the reasons they have not brought in another left tackle and aren't likely to do so in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the organization feels better about its situation on the interior offensive line, where it has three quality players who mostly held their own last season. Veteran C Geoff Hangartner and rookie OLG Andy Levitre both started all 16 games, and rookie ORG Eric Wood started the first 10 contests before breaking multiple bones in his leg. Word is that Wood is expected to be ready for training camp, although that timetable could be optimistic considering the severity of his injury.

 

For the most authoritative NFL draft news and free-agency analysis, visit ProFootballWeekly.com.

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