The first position vacancy to open that affected Bills offensive lineman Demetrius Bell came at left guard when veteran Derrick Dockery was released. A little over a month later another spot opened at tackle with Jason Peters traded to Philadelphia. Now faced with a prime opportunity to land a starting role, Bell is eager to begin on field preparations for 2009.
"I'm pumped up about it," Bell told Buffalobills.com of the opportunity in front of him. "I'm even more motivated about it now with what's happened. We'll wait and see how it plays out."
Bell was already considered part of the competition pool at the starting left guard position along with veteran Kirk Chambers and recent free agent signee Seth McKinney. More competition could arrive by the end of the week in the form of a draft choice.
But now with the opening at offensive tackle after the Peters trade, Bell will clearly be a part of the competition on the edge, with that being his primary position. For now though Bell will bide his time and let the coaching staff decide where he'll be spending most of his time.
"That's up to the people upstairs and what position they feel they need to put me at," Bell said. "We'll have to wait and see what position they think is best."
What is clear is that the coaching staff has a lot of faith in the second-year tackle after working for him for just one NFL season and almost solely in the practice setting.
"He's very athletic," said offensive line coach Sean Kugler. "He's kind of proven it in practice. We're confident that he's going to continue to grow."
Bell feels his game after just one season in an NFL practice setting is light years ahead of where he was coming off his final season of college ball.
"I feel I've come a long way, it's totally different now in terms of speed of the game. I feel I've made progress," he said. "I know I've still got a lot of work in front of me, but I feel I've come a long way."
And Bell's confidence has only been further enhanced by the departure of Peters, knowing he and Kirk Chambers are the primary candidates to replace him.
"It makes me feel great knowing that they believe in me that I can get the job done," said Bell. "So I feel good about the situation."
At the same time Bell knows the competition will be fierce, knowing there are two starting jobs on the line. However, Bell is determined to land one of the starting roles come the end of training camp in August.
"I've got to stay humble about the situation, but when I came in as a rookie I told (assistant offensive line) coach Ray Brown that my goal is to start," said Bell. "I didn't care if it was last season, a year from now or two years from now. My goal is to start and be the best that I can be at this level."