It's been a whirlwind of a month for Bills rookie offensive tackle Jamon Meredith. Signed off Green Bay's practice squad Sept. 22 by Buffalo, Meredith has changed his NFL city, changed his roster status and changed his playing time.
Meredith went from improving his game for 2010 to starting at right tackle in 2009. Three weeks after he arrived in Buffalo, Meredith earned his first NFL start in Week 6 against the New York Jets.
Helping him adapt to the change of scenery and change in scheme was assistant offensive line coach Ray Brown, who put him through a one week cram session after the staff knew veteran Jonathan Scott would be unavailable due to injury.
"I just basically reinforced what (offensive line) coach (Sean) Kugler was doing," said Brown. "Just giving him an extra look at film and watching a lot of his practice stuff on offense and defense. Just a little extra work to get him familiarized because he's relatively new and it's his first time playing in the NFL. We wanted to make sure we covered things with him in regards to him knowing what to do. That's probably the reason he played well. He knew what to do and he's a pretty talented athlete also."
"I think coach Brown did a heck of a job with him spending a lot of extra meeting time with him watching film and explaining our offense to him, spending extra time after practice and going back and watching film and getting him caught up to speed," said Kugler. "Ray did an unbelievable job and then he went out and performed. He did everything that was asked of him."
Meredith did perform relatively well against the Jets and did it with a fellow rookie next to him in Eric Wood.
"I love Eric Wood man he really helps me out a lot," said Meredith. "That's a good guard I'd love to be beside. We've got good communication up front. That's what we emphasize. I did okay, but I want to get a lot better so I've got to keep working."
"He was pretty calm and confident and we had to over communicate on the field last Sunday," said Wood. "We talked the whole game to make sure we were both on the same page. We're both rookies and he's been here an even shorter time than I have so Geoff (Hangartner) is helping out in the middle and I'm relaying as much as I can to him."
What has left the coaching staff encouraged about Meredith's prospects moving forward is the rookie's work ethic.
"The thing I liked about the kid was he was anxious to get in," said Brown. "Coming from a practice squad to an active squad he has an idea of what's in front of him seeing guys play. We play some pretty young guys already so it wasn't like he was entering new territory. He has a unique relationship with the guys in the room because of the age similiarities so he was able to slide in and really communicate and connect."
"I think he probably came in and say, 'Wait a second these guys are the same age as me. I can step right in.' We liked Jamon coming out of the draft," Kugler said. "He's a smart kid and a tough kid and very athletic. He was kind of a guy that we were fortunate to get here."
Wood and Meredith were prior acquaintances having met at the NFL combine back in February. He and Andy Levitre were both in Meredith's workout group. The Bills also held a personal interview with Meredith at the combine leading up to the draft. All of that prior history has helped Meredith with his transition to Buffalo's roster.
"The kid is very athletic for his size," said Brown. "Good strength. He has a lot of the intangibles that you like in an offensive lineman. We graded him high coming out in the draft. I think he remembered us interviewing him out at the combine. So for some reason that stuck with him."
Meredith genuinely appreciates the faith that both Kugler and Brown have put in him as there aren't many situations in the NFL like the one the rookie lineman walked into with the Bills.
"Ray has been a big help since I first got here giving me more and more little by little," said Meredith. "Last week specifically he told me to just play my game and play hard and stick to our techniques. I'll listen to anything he has to say. I'm very fortunate. I've got two great offensive line coaches."
With Jonathan Scott out for a second straight week with an ankle injury, the right side of Buffalo's line will again be manned by Wood and Meredith today against Carolina. And while having a perfect performance as a rookie is far from easy they're determined to improve on last week's outing.
"We probably look like Peyton Manning out there gesturing to one another out there so much pre-snap to help each other out," said Wood. "We're doing all we can and he's a hard worker. We both like to get after it a little bit on the field so we're having fun."
"The kid is smart and he wants it," said Brown of Meredith. "He really wants it. Some people may cower away from that as a young player being thrust into the situation, but he wants it. So that encourages you and I think he's realistic. He wants to learn, he wants to get better and he wants to be a quality player in this league."