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Eric Wood, one year later

The date was Nov. 22, 2009 when Eric Wood's promising rookie season was side-swiped by a 300-pound airborne Jacksonville defensive lineman. It's been a long road back from the compound fracture that Wood's left leg sustained in that game in Jacksonville. Now 360 days later it's still not 100 percent, but the right guard's most recent play has been a strong indication that Wood's top form is not far off.

Coming off a solid performance in Week 8 against Chicago, Wood's play in Week 9, in Buffalo's first victory of the season, was close to dominant as he made Detroit's number two overall pick Ndamukong Suh a non-factor in last Sunday's game.

"Any time you're going up against someone that's been hyped up as much as he's been this year and with 6.5 sacks at the midway point for a D-tackle, you get up for it," Wood told "It was a game that I prepared for and I was able to do pretty well in pass protection. There were a few plays in the run game where I wish I would've got a little bit more movement, but I felt like I played a pretty good game and I prepared hard for it."

Suh finished the game with three tackles.

"(Sunday) was his best game of the year," said head coach Chan Gailey. "He blocked extremely well. He's a physical player. He gives you everything he's got every time he walks on the field. I can't say enough about the way Eric Wood plays the game. He does it the right way."

Wood was instrumental on Buffalo's two longest run plays in the game. On the first offensive play from scrimmage in the second half, Wood drove Suh off the line of scrimmage inside. It allowed Fred Jackson to run through the hole off the right guard's hip to daylight for a 39-yard gain, which led to Buffalo's second touchdown.

"On that play I got a pretty good seal on Suh and Mansfield (Wrotto) did a great job taking two linebackers. Any time you can do that you're going to get a guy free. Fred came around and made some guys miss like he always does and just took off."

Three series later, Wood and Wrotto combo-blocked Suh with Wood then quickly climbing to the second level to drive middle linebacker DeAndre Levy out of the play to spring Jackson for a 27-yard run. That play got Jackson the fifth 100-yard rushing day of his career as the running back finished the game with 133 yards on the ground.

"It's never one guy that makes the play," said Wood. "But if we put more plays together like that then the five of us up front will have a lot more good games for Fred this year."

"He did a great job," said Ryan Fitzpatrick. "I think if you look at everybody across the board they did a good job (Sunday). Mansfield played really well. They're just going to continue to get better every week. That was a good defensive line. That was a good test for us. For us to be able to pound the ball like we did and protect in the passing game was a step in the right direction for the guys up front."

The fact that Wood was able to do it with his third new right tackle this season speaks even more to how far the second-year guard has come after the severe leg injury.

"Yeah that new tandem thing has kind of been the M.O. in my career because I've had about seven or eight tackles in two years," said Wood chuckling. "We've just been able to adjust and Mansfield has done a great job of stepping in and when Cordaro (Howard) gets healthy we'll hopefully have two good right tackles over there."

Though never satisfied Wood admits he has seen an improvement in his play as the season has worn on.

"I know that the bye week helped and I think as the season has progressed I've played better," Wood said. "I just want to continue to get better. I hate to use my leg as a crutch ever, but it was tough getting used to it. It took so much time in training camp to get going that I feel like as the season has worn on it's been easier for me to play out there. I just look forward to hopefully progressing as the year goes on and hopefully I can put in a full offseason this year."

Wood still has a titanium rod and four screws in his surgically repaired leg. Looking back on his rehabilitation process through the last six months he felt strength in the leg and his foot speed took the longest to come back.

"I felt from an endurance standpoint, cardiovascular-wise I was in good shape. I worked with the trainers a lot to make sure I'd be in good shape. What was hard was I wasn't in great football shape because I wasn't able to practice," he said. "I appreciated the Bills giving me the opportunity to still come back and start. As the year has gone on whether it got better or I just learned to play with it, my play has definitely improved from a grading standpoint in how the coaches have graded me."

Looking at the production in the run game by play direction, Wood is among the league leaders at right guard. Through the first nine games, run plays that have gone over his right guard position this season have averaged 5.72 yards per carry (25 car., 143 yds). That's almost a yard and a half better than the team's overall rushing average this season (4.4). It also ranks third best in the league for right guard.

"It's everyone's goal to try to make the Pro Bowl some day and wind up at the top of your position," said Wood. "I think I've played myself out of Pro Bowl aspirations in my first year coming back off the injury. But I'm just trying to get to a high level and live up to being a first-round draft pick and being what the Bills want me to be."

"I think we all know that he's not 100 percent healthy," said Gailey. "When he gets there, if what we see now is not 100 percent healthy, he's got a chance to be a really good offensive lineman."

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