From start to finish inspring OTA and minicamp practices second-year offensive lineman Jamon Meredith has lined up as the team's starting left tackle. It's partly by default with incumbent starter Demetrius Bell still rehabbing from offseason knee surgery, but what those valuable reps have done for him is place him in a comfort zone he hasn't felt in a Bills uniform previously.
"Last year I came in and I had to learn on the run," said Meredith. "This year I get to learn at the same rate as everybody else. So it's a lot easier to adjust to the playbook and learn the calls and get familiar with my teammates earlier."
After spending three weeks on the Packers practice squad as a rookie in 2009, Meredith was signed by the Bills as injuries plagued Buffalo's offensive line. Thrust into a new system, which demanded linemen know the calls at the line in the team's no huddle approach, proved to be a supreme challenge.
A challenge that Meredith had to put into action just three weeks later when he made his first of three straight starts for the Bills at right tackle when injuries forced him into the starting lineup last season.
"Last year calling plays on the line you have to know the terminology and since I came late I didn't know all the terms, but Eric Wood helped me out a lot," said Meredith. "But now I feel a lot more comfortable because I'm in the playbook early. I get the materials the same as everyone else at the same time and I like the offense."
Meredith is enjoying the benefit of practicing for six weeks in Buffalo's new system where no other player has any more exposure to it than he does. He grateful that playing catch up is no longer his daily chore, and believes the benefit of four starts including one at left tackle in the season finale last season will help him as he competes for a starting role.
"I feel a lot better because I've been against the competition," said Meredith. "I have a lot to get better, we all do obviously. But it's good that I had a chance to get in there with live bullets going. So this year I think I'll be a little bit more prepared if I'm able to go in there."
A lot of that will depend upon how quickly Bell can come along physically and get accustomed to the new terminology and execute once he's back on the field. Rookie fifth-round pick Ed Wang is not expected to contend for the starting role as a rookie leaving it a two-man race for the job.
For now Meredith is just trying to improve his game as much as possible, knowing his technique is less than perfect.
"I'm naturally stronger and a little athletic," said Meredith. "It kind of bails you out sometimes when your technique is bad. I'm not the best technician. My coach will tell you that. Sometimes when my technique breaks down I just use what God gives me and will it out."
Meredith isn't concerned about matching his competition snap for snap when Bell returns to the field. He's just focused on showing growth in his game and convincing the new coaching staff that he can be a reliable part of Buffalo's tackle corps. After that he's content with letting the depth chart unfold how the coaches see fit.
"I'm just ready to go. I was in the first group in rookie camp and I've carried it on over. I'm holding the fort down," he said. "I work hard. I listen to what my coach tells me to do and I just do whatever they tell me and I keep my faith in the Lord and we'll just see what's going to happen."