With Demetrius Bell and Kraig Urbik going down with serious knee injuries last week Buffalo had to refortify their depth on the offensive line with just one reserve remaining in Sam Young. Tuesday the Bills moved TE Mike Caussin, who also suffered a knee injury Saturday, to injured reserve and promoted OL Mike Jasper from their practice squad.
"It's definitely a blessing," Jasper told Buffalobills.com. "I hate the circumstances in the way I've been called up with one of our comrades going down because we're a tight-knit group on the offensive line. But it's my job to be ready and I've done what they've asked me to do and I've prepared each week so finally in Week 17 I'm ready to go."
Jasper, the team's final pick in the 2011 draft, has been on the Bills' practice squad all season. After playing at nose tackle for all of training camp Jasper was moved back to the offensive side of the ball where he had played his final two seasons in college at Bethel.
The 6'4" 383-pound lineman admitted making the transition back to offensive line took a bit of time.
"It was kind of weird because I had totally focused my mind on playing nose tackle," said Jasper. "So finally getting it back geared up to offensive line it wasn't until this past month that I got all the way back mentally to being an offensive lineman. I've really tried to hone back in on the technique because I had thrown it all out the window to focus on my pass rush and stopping the run. Now I'm feeling pretty confident in my run blocking again and I'm still honing in on the pass pro technique."
Jasper has been working primarily at guard, but has also seen work at offensive tackle and center.
"(offensive line coach) Joe D'Alessandris has been working on my snaps before practice and turning me into a bit of a center so it's been kind of fun, but I think I'm a guard first and then a probably tackle second knowing I played there when I was at Tennessee-Martin."
The rookie, who was nicknamed 'The Eclipse' by Ryan Fitzpatrick, will presumably serve as a backup guard. Should there be an injury at tackle or center in the season finale against the Patriots it's expected that Andy Levitre would fill that role and Jasper would step in at Levitre's left guard position.
The bottom line is Jasper has made progress with his game and having the time to do that at the NFL level is what has the rookie lineman so grateful for his opportunity with the Bills.
"It is very much a gradual process and I'm very appreciative to Buddy Nix and coach Gailey and coach Joe D for giving me the opportunity to actually develop," he said. "There are not many programs in the NFL that would take a guy like me that would take the time to mold me like clay into the player they want. It's still a process, and I'll be up here all offseason working on it."