Saturday, October 25, 2014

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Anchored by the O-Line

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Eric Wood, Andy Levitre, Kraig Urbik, Eric Pears, and Cordy Glenn: does the average football fan (outside of Buffalo) know those names? Probably not. The Bills offensive linemen combine for zero Pro Bowls, zero post season awards (aside from rookie recognition), and make modest salaries by NFL standards. But this group is the only one in the NFL who has yet to allow a sack this season.

"If you watch the game film, I think we're one of the most physical O-lines in the league," said center Eric Wood. "We're fairly young, we play with a lot of energy, and a lot of times we're getting after people.

"I think the effort's been pretty consistent and the demeanor we play with has been pretty consistent."

The Bills have built this unit around Wood. He was the second of the organization's first round picks in 2009, a pick acquired in the Jason Peters trade. On his right is Levitre, who the Bills traded up to get in the second round of that same draft. The Bills supplemented those two players with veterans Urbik and Pears, who hadn't gotten significant opportunity in the NFL.

Combining high picks with experience worked well for the Bills last year. That unit allowed an NFL-best 23 sacks, and led the AFC with 4.9 yards per rush attempt. This spring, the team invested another high pick to get left tackle Glenn in the second round.

"They have worked together for a while now," said Ryan Fitzpatrick. "And you bring someone like Cordy in; to have all of that experience around him, with those guys being able to bring him up to speed, and the communication that goes on during a game, these guys have done it together now for a little while.

"The continuity up front, we always talk about it in general, but those guys up front it is a big deal. The communication is much smoother."

In the preseason, Wood spoke about how the offensive line has to be the tightest unit on the team. Chan Gailey notes that as the main reason for their success.

"They're working together as a unit, communicating extremely well right now," the head coach said. "They have given us two excellent performances really in the last two weeks, so we've got to continue to use them and what their abilities allow us to do."

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