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Bills O-line interior stabilized

Posted May 22, 2012


It largely went under the radar as Buffalo’s offseason signings go. When there’s a free agent acquisition the magnitude of Mario Williams one may be able to understand why. The re-signing of Chad Rinehart and Kraig Urbik however, is far from lost on the men on Buffalo’s offensive side of the ball.

“It’s really big for our offensive line just having continuity bringing those guys back. We have a good solid group of interior guys that have been working together for a couple of years now with a lot of us starting a bunch of games,” said Eric Wood. “We all trust each other and all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and the numbers proved it last year.”

Buffalo’s offensive line led the league in fewest sacks allowed (23) and ranked fifth in yards per carry average (4.9) all despite using three different players at left tackle and four different players at center in 2011. With Rinehart and Urbik, both restricted free agents, back with the club for 2012 valuable continuity can be maintained.

“It definitely counts for something,” Urbik told Buffalobills.com. “Chad started 12 games and I started 13 and we’ve got Eric (Wood) and Andy (Levitre) back so we definitely have a lot of experience in the middle. It’s going to help us out a lot jelling together as an O-line whether it’s Chris (Hairston) or Cordy (Glenn) at left tackle starting this year.”

Demetress Bell was Buffalo’s only major loss in free agency on the offensive line. Drafting Glenn and Zebrie Sanders helped to offset the departure, but effectively filling one spot instead of three up allows the unit to hit the ground running leading up to training camp.

“That would have been tough,” said Urbik of the prospect of filling three departures. “Ever since training camp it took us four or five weeks for us to jell together and even throughout the whole year we played better then. Obviously all the injuries didn’t help, but the way (offensive line coach) Joe (D’Alessandris) works it we get all the reps we can in practice and even some of the backups get reps. So that helped a lot, but having most everyone back helps with experience and chemistry.”

Over the last two seasons Rinehart and Urbik have 30 starts between them. Rinehart, who pushed Urbik for the starting right guard job, saw most of his action due to the injuries that beset the line, but when on the field the unit was every bit as effective.

That’s what gave Ryan Fitzpatrick a greater sense of comfort knowing both Rinehart and Urbik were back in the fold.

“The guys up front they’re communicating more than anybody else is whether it’s me or with each other,” he said. “For them to have worked together for multiple years is huge. To get two guys like that back… Urbik is a guy that can play pretty much any of the interior positions. Chad is a guy you can plug in at either guard spot. It’s huge for us to have the inside of our line solidified like that not just with the experience they bring, but the experience they have with each other. That’s big.”