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Urbik to man the pivot

Posted Nov 21, 2011


Bills head coach Chan Gailey hinted at it after Sunday’s loss at Miami and confirmed it on Monday. Kraig Urbik will be the new starting center for Buffalo.

“Yeah that’s the plan we’re going to go with now,” said Gailey. “We feel like that probably a cleaner short term solution for us.”

Gailey blamed himself for putting Andy Levitre in the difficult position of playing his third different position on the offensive line in the span of five weeks, having played left tackle for three games and his natural left guard position prior.

“It was as much my fault as it was his fault to put him in that situation,” said Gailey of Levitre. “We didn’t know it was going to rain like that, but it could’ve and it came in spurts. The first half was okay and the second half when it started raining hard that’s when it got bad. It’s a tough situation for everybody to be in, for Fitz to be in, for us to be in. And we feel it’s probably better not to keep pushing that.”

According to Gailey, credit goes to offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris, who has been adamant about having as many of his guards also learn center as possible.

“You can’t play a game without a center,” said Gailey. “You have to have a center. So we try to get as many guys as possible ready to play that position at least getting snaps so we can function offensively.”

So in steps Urbik, a lineman that never played center until D’Alessandris began indoctrinating him last season. Urbik spent some time last season snapping to Ryan Fitzpatrick in the practice setting and got 16 snaps on offense at center against Dallas after Eric Wood was lost for the season.

“I never had done it before last year, but now I’m really, really comfortable in there,” Urbik told Buffalobills.com. “Last year and even this year I’ve had a lot of snaps at center, in practice too. In the Dallas game I got quite a few snaps and felt comfortable and felt pretty good.”

Of the 16 snaps Urbik had in Dallas, 11 were in the shotgun, something that Urbik feels he’s got a good handle on.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is fine with the switch, knowing he’s spent some time with Urbik at center.

“It’s going to be a bit of adjustment again. It’s something we’re going to work on and get used to, but I know I’ve taken more snaps with Urbik than I have with Andy over the past year or so,” he said. “He’s done a good job with his consistency with the snapping. I’ve taken snaps with Urbik whether it’s before practice or during practice in a competitive setting I’ve taken snaps from him.”

Urbik knows his assignment will be decidedly different the second time around against the Jets now that he’s at center. In the first matchup his main concern was rookie Muhammad Wilkerson. Now he’ll be dealing with the 330-pound Sione Pouha.

“Yeah it does change,” Urbik said. “I’m going against a different type of guy. I’ve got to snap it and try to reach and really good nose tackle so I’ve got my work cut out for me.”

Andy Levitre will move back to his natural left guard position and Chad Rinehart will flip over to right guard to replace Urbik. There’s no question the line misses their leader Eric Wood, but in the eyes of the Bills coaches and players this is their next best option.

“It’s next man up,” said Fitzpatrick. “We’re going to rely on him to do the job.”