Tuesday, October 8, 2013

'Open competition' at guard no-brainer for Bills


Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone announced the "official" return of injured guard Doug Legursky Monday, which was a week or so earlier than projected for the 27-year-old's sprained MCL.

For the Bills' pass protection unit, the news couldn't have come any sooner.

"Coming back and being ready to go in Week Five, that’s just good shoutouts to the training staff, how good they did to get me back," Legursky told reporters Monday. "I’m feeling really good and ready to get back out on the field and help these guys get a win."

Legursky dressed for the team's game in Cleveland but saw little time, as it seemed the coaching staff kept him as a strictly emergency option. The sirens have been blaring on the left side of the Bills' O-line all season, however, and 28-year-old Colin Brown had another terrible outing against an aggressive Browns defense last Sunday in the team's eventual 37-24 loss.

Through five games, Brown's play has statistically been the worst of any guard in the league, according to ProFootballFocus. He's ranked dead last in pass protection, run blocking and quarterback hits allowed, and he's allowed the second-most QB hurries. 

And despite the fact Brown only won the starting role because of Legursky's injury, Marrone claims the two will nevertheless compete for the starting role this weekend against the Bengals, with a by-committee plan still very much in the picture.

"He’s (Legursky) back and that’s going to be an open competition," Marrone told the media. "Both those players will play left guard this week versus Cincinnati. That’s where we are with that. How we’re going to do it, we still haven’t finalized that plan. Quarters, series, whatever it may be. 

"That we’re going to work out during the week with the players and what's the best situation for all of us to get the stuff out there. I think it a nutshell that’s where we are."

Solidarity on the blind side will be a key factor in the coming weeks, particularly with the team's starting quarterback, E.J. Manuel, on the sideline for four to six weeks with a knee sprain of his own. The offensive line will be tasked with protecting undrafted free agent Thad Lewis against Cincinnati, as Marrone named the 26-year-old the starter, pointing to his "ability to run and extend" plays. 

Jeff Tuel, who went 8-for-20 with an interception and two sacks in Manuel's absence last week, will back up Lewis. 

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