Heading into the 2010 offseason it appeared initially as though the Bills would have to consider making additions to the offensive tackle position. With their two starters coming off of knee injuries that required surgery and just a veteran and pair of rookies behind them on the roster it was logical to believe Buffalo needed reinforcements. Now with the sudden retirement of Brad Butler, head coach Chan Gailey admitted they have an even greater hole to fill.
"With the retirement of Brad Butler that puts us in a position of need maybe even more so than we were," said Buffalo's head coach. "That's something we'll have to address either in free agency, the draft or both. That's where we are right now."
With an offseason set to operate under more restrictive rules in what is looking more and more like an uncapped year, acquiring a quality free agent offensive tackle could prove difficult. Fortunately there is a good crop of top tier talent in the draft, and with the ninth overall pick Buffalo stands a good chance of landing one of the top four prospects.
As for the talent currently on their roster, third-year tackle Demetrius Bell is the offensive tackle with the most talent and promise. He's coming off a knee scope shortly before the season ended after a knee injury forced him to miss the last seven games of the season. But Gailey is optimistic about him being full go by this summer at the latest.
"I think the prognosis for he and the other offensive linemen and Eric Wood and some of the other guys that were injured during the season, the prognosis looks good for them to get back for training camp," Gailey said. "Everything seems to be moving along faster than our trainers thought at the time so that's a positive for us."
"Rehab is going well," Bell told Buffalobills.com. "I went to the doctor and he said he was real pleased with everything in terms of my progress."
Gailey knows losing a starting tackle in his mid-20's is far from ideal at a position that already appeared in need of additional talent, but the veteran coach is ready to adjust.
"If you're not flexible in this business you're in trouble," he said. "Anything can happen at any point in time. The guy can be gone for whatever reason. You have to be flexible in this business. Did it come as a surprise and did it change our plans? It does a little bit, but at the same time you deal with it and you go on."