It was a major question mark entering training camp. With a pair of starters on Buffalo's offensive line still recuperating from long rehabilitations following surgery, there was only a finite amount of time for the offense's front five to get in sync for the regular season. Making it even tougher were the limited reps afforded to left tackle Demetrius Bell and right guard Eric Wood. But coming off of their lengthiest preseason performance there appears to be budding chemistry.
"Getting to work as a group, that's good," said right tackle Cornell Green. "That's one thing that came out of the (Cincinnati) game, working through it as a group through the good times and the bad times during the game. That was good because we need to jell. Offensive line (play) is all about jelling and knowing what each other is doing and having each other's back."
The blocking for Buffalo's run game has looked good from the very beginning of the preseason as evidenced by their league ranking of fifth in rushing yards per game (140.7). Obviously numbers get skewed somewhat in the preseason setting, but the holes have been there for Buffalo's ball carriers on a consistent basis.
"I think our offense is starting to come around," said C.J. Spiller. "The big guys up front are making our job a whole lot easier. They're playing lights out."
Even more encouraging are the strides the line has made in pass protection. The projected starters all acknowledged that their pass protection had to be brought up to the level at which they were effectively run blocking. After their most recent performance it looks as though the gap is being closed.
"I thought the pass protection after the first series was pretty good," said head coach Chan Gailey of the line's performance against Cincinnati. "We were able to keep them out of there and give him time to get to that third guy. I was very happy about the progress our pass protection has taken."
Consider the fact that the Bengals defense wasn't shy about using a lot of stunts and twists up front in an effort to confuse Buffalo's protection schemes and the line play becomes even more noteworthy.
"They were bringing some guys off the edge that was putting us in some tough spots," said Trent Edwards. "But for the most part I thought our pass protection and our run blocking by those front five, they did a great job."
"It was a lot of games, they were running a lot of multiple fronts," said Green. "They put the whole package in there for us today. It was a good test for us on the offensive line."
Bell, who got 21 plays last Saturday, up from the 10 or so that he got in the second preseason game, is making good progress as far as building endurance in his surgically repaired knee is concerned. While Wood, who played the full length of time with the rest of the starting unit Saturday, looks as close to game ready as possible.
"I thought they held up extremely well," said Gailey. "I was very pleased to see how that went. They played more plays than they've played (the whole preseason). We're trying to continue to, not push it, but let it develop. It looks like they're developing very well and gaining some football stamina back. That's going to be important for us for the season."
And though the development to this point looks promising, the offensive linemen are not stopping to admire their progress.
"It's very encouraging, but I'm one of those guys that always look at the little things, especially myself and for the whole line to get where we want to be," said Green. "We've still got a lot of work to do."