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O-line turns to Levitre... again

Posted Nov 14, 2011


Buffalo’s offensive line has had to lean pretty heavily on Andy Levitre already this season. With Eric Wood lost for the rest of the year with a torn ACL, he’ll be called upon again to serve in his third position in a month.

Levitre, typically the team’s starting left guard, will move to center to fill the void left by Wood.

“It’s unfortunate. Eric put a lot of effort into being a great player and he’s done a great job for us. It’s really unfortunate to see. He’s kind of the anchor of our line,” Levitre said. “The plan is for me to move to center this week and maybe for the rest of the season. It kind of depends on the coaching staff. I think at least this week I’ll be at center.”

“That would be our best move,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “It looks like (Chris) Hairston is back pretty much full speed now so we’ll be able to play him at left tackle.”

Left tackle was where Levitre had lined up the past three weeks while Hairston recovered from a high ankle sprain with starter Demetrius Bell trying to come back from a shoulder injury. Bell will also return to the practice field this week and stands an outside chance of returning to the lineup.

“He hasn’t even been on the field for a practice yet,” said Gailey of Bell, who has been sidelined since suffering the injury in Week 4. “You can’t factor him in at this point until he gets on the field and proves it. At least Hairston has been on the practice field for two weeks.”

Hairston has been active for the past two games, but was only going to be inserted into the lineup if there was an injury to one of the tackles.

Levitre got a good deal of work at center in training camp and the preseason as he was being groomed as Wood’s backup. He also made an appearance at center last season in Week 13 against Minnesota when both Geoff Hangartner and Kraig Urbik were injured with Wood inactive with an ankle injury.

It’s clear that Levitre’s teammates respect and appreciate his versatility so they’re taking the latest position switch up front in stride including Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is obviously most affected by the change.

“He’s having a great season at guard and we asked him to fill in at tackle and he’s done a good job out there and we’ll see how it goes,” said Fitzpatrick. “We’ll put him at center and he’s a good player and I’m sure he’ll do just fine there.”

Gailey and Fitzpatrick believe the main point of emphasis this week is getting everyone in sync with a new player making line calls.

“Communication, that’s the bottom line at that position,” said Gailey. “He’s got to be a great communicator, which he has been at guard and tackle. I don’t have an issue with him being able to handle that part of it, but communication is the key getting everybody on the same page.”

“It’s just doing technical things, getting used to playing the position,” said Levitre. “I was there not too long ago. It’ll be just getting the snaps and getting used to the interior again. That’s about it.”