The Bills open preseason play on Thursday hosting the Washington Redskins at Ralph Wilson Stadium. It means that finally some of the team's cloudy position battles will start coming into focus.
At no position was the depth chart more blurry in training camp than left offensive tackle, where second-year pro Chris Hairston and rookie second-round pick Cordy Glenn are battling. The two have shared repetitions with the first unit since camp began and it's anyone's guess who has the edge.
"I don't know how that one is going to end," coach Chan Gailey said.
And it could be a while before he knows.
Throwing a bit of a wrench into the process has been an unforeseen predicament at right tackle where Buffalo was counting on Erik Pears to return by now from off-season hernia surgery. Pears has only been able to work mostly on his own with his team repetitions very limited.
That forced the coaching staff to shift Hairston to right tackle for some precautionary prep time in the event he has to play there while Pears continues to rehab.
"We were trying to get Hairston some (repetitions) at right since Pears has been out," Gailey said. "We have been trying to find a way to get him some at right, so that made more reps for Cordy (at left). We were trying to get a three-man rotation a little bit in those first 12 (plays)."
Gailey isn't an alarmist and when asked if Pears' situation is a "major concern," he didn't bite.
"I'm not ready to put the word 'major' on it, but it's a concern," he said.
Early on, backup Sam Young was getting the majority of Pears' work with the first unit. Young isn't assured to even make the final roster so it appears more prudent to give Hairston more work at right tackle in case he must open the season there.
Much of the Bills' offensive success is dependent on center Eric Wood's recovery from ACL surgery (he has been making good progress) and Pears' recovery from his hernia. And of course, the development of Hairston and Glenn at the critical left tackle spot.
Hairston and Glenn bring tremendous size to the job -- Hairston going 6-6, 330 and Glenn 6-6, 345. They tower over everybody else.
"I can't expect to have the job given to me, I have to go out and earn it and they made it a little harder because they brought in some good competition," said Hairston, who started seven games his rookie season. "He's a great player and I think he'll have a great career."
"I'm just trying to get better and help out the team," Glenn said. "I'm trying to learn new things every day and all the linemen have experience so I'm trying to get better off of them."
Making them both better is having to square off against Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams each day in drills.
"They are doing a great job," Williams said. "I will say Chris Hairston has very good feet for a big guy. And (Glenn) is definitely a big guy. As long as they are into the scheme, understand the calls and know what to do amongst the system everything will be all right. I think they are looking pretty good."
Gailey sounded OK with Glenn getting more repetitions at left tackle and there are no plans to give him some right tackle work.
"We had Hairston and he has played right before," he said. "Cordy is a guy that needs every snap at left tackle he can get. So we are just leaving him there and letting him take every rep there."
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