The coaching staff felt Andy Levitre held his own at left tackle last Sunday at Tennessee when he was inserted as the emergency fill-in on the blind side following the knee injury suffered by Demetrius Bell. So well in fact that with Bell unlikely to play, Levitre will make his first start at left tackle on Sunday at Jacksonville.
"It's going alright," said Levitre following practice Wednesday. "It just takes a little getting used to, but I feel like I'll be ready for it. I don't think I did terrible (last) Sunday. For going in without many reps I felt like I did a decent job and I'm hoping I'll do a better job this week against Jacksonville."
The timing couldn't be better for Levitre as the Bills are facing the worst pass rush in football. The Jaguars are last in the league in sacks with just eight in nine games. Their top two draft picks of a year ago, Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves, have been disappointments as neither has recorded a sack thus far this season.
Levitre isn't foreign to the left tackle position having played there his final two seasons at Oregon State. Once Buffalo's tackle ranks thinned the rookie was advised that if the team was in a dire situation he would be moved outside.
Fortunately for Levitre last week during practice he had taken some tackle reps while working on the scout team, but it's not exactly the same as getting reps with a first team offense.
"You're just running plays off cards," he said. "But I guess it's better than nothing."
Interim head coach Perry Fewell, who was getting in the faces of the offensive linemen in his first practice at the helm, is not using youth as an excuse for the play of his inherited offensive line. So Levitre's lack of exposure to NFL defensive ends will not be a crutch.
"He's not young anymore," said Fewell of Levitre. "We're 3-6, he's played nine games in the National Football League. He's got experience."
Levitre will be one half of the fifth different offensive tackle tandem on Buffalo's line in 10 games. One candidate for the right tackle position is veteran Kirk Chambers, who started there last week and played a good portion of the Houston game in Week 8. Chambers received first team reps Wednesday.
The other candidate is rookie Jamon Meredith, who practiced fully on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a sprained MCL in Week 8. He has made three starts at right tackle this season.
Jonathan Scott is another possible option, but he returned to practice Thursday serving in a backup capacity at tackle and guard. Fewell said Scott would have to absorb the game plan quickly to factor into a starting lineup decision. Scott started in place of an injured Demetrius Bell in Week 4 at Miami.
Chambers, who has seen the most action at right tackle of late, feels like he's settled in the past two weeks.
"It is ideal to get some continuity," he said. "I definitely feel like playing next to Eric (Wood) for a couple of games that some chemistry is building there. We're getting to know each other and helping each other out. With Demetrius injured it's definitely another challenge for us."
On the other end of the line Levitre is trying to develop some on field chemistry with veteran Seth McKinney, who is expected to start at left guard in place of Levitre.
"Seth knows the calls and the offense and has been around since the end of last season," said Levitre. "I feel pretty comfortable next to him. I feel like he knows what he's doing and we'll communicate well this week."
Levitre isn't worried about handling the opponent's best pass rusher. He knows he's playing at a different level than he was in the Pac-10, but after a full week of practice at the position he believes he'll be properly prepared. It's just the player turnover up front all season that has been most trying for the entire unit.
"It's not easy when you've got a new guy coming in every week, but we have to go out and play to the best of our ability," said Levitre. "It's a matter of execution on game day. It takes all five guys to execute. You can't have four guys and one guy messing up. That's when plays get busted. I know we've got the guys to do it. It's just a matter of getting it done. I'm looking forward to the challenge on Sunday."