After signing Russell Bodine to a two-year contract on March 20th of this year, the battle for the starting center job took off. All throughout the spring training program, training camp and the preseason fourth-year Bill, Ryan Groy, has rotated with Bodine as the starter. Today, Bills head coach Sean McDermott announced that Groy would begin the season as the number one center against Baltimore on Sunday.
"Ryan Groy will start," said McDermott. "Russell [Bodine] has had a good preseason as well, so we feel good about both of those young men."
In preseason action, Groy saw time at center, left guard and right guard and McDermott said that the decision to move him around was based mostly around Groy's versatility. He also stated that the Groy was unlikely to see any time at guard barring an injury to either of the Bills' starters at those positions.
"It could come up in the game in Baltimore, who knows? You try and do some of that in this game," said McDermott. "Sometimes, you're able to do it before, but we just felt like it was the right time to do that and move some pieces around and see how it looked in how the guys communicated."
The news does not come as a huge surprise given Groy's history with the Bills coaching staff and his previous success behind Eric Wood, even as Bodine came to Buffalo following four straight seasons as the starting center in Cincinnati.
Bodine's connection and history with A.J. McCarron may have played a larger role in the decision had McCarron been named the starting quarterback in Buffalo, but the fifth-year quarterback was dealt to Oakland on Saturday. Although Bodine will not start in 2018, the Bills can rest comfortably knowing that they have one of the premier backup centers in the NFL.
Nothing but respect for McCarron
Prior to the final roster being released, the Bills made some headlines when they traded AJ McCarron to the Oakland Raiders. McCarron was signed to a two-year deal on March 15th of this year and he began his journey with the Bills competing with the likes of Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen.
Throughout training camp, McCarron took a fair amount of the team's first team reps in practices, and he was certainly in the mix for the starting job.
A shoulder injury in the second preseason game against Cleveland hampered McCarron's ability to participate in any team activities, and he did not play in the team's third preseason game against his former team. His absence, combined with the stellar play of Nathan Peterman and the emergence of Josh Allen as a legitimate threat to win the starting job, ultimately led to his trade to Oakland. However, Bills head coach Sean McDermott noted that he was impressed with McCarron in his short time in Buffalo.
"I really appreciate the effort he gave us all the way up to the last seconds of the last preseason game; you don't see that very often," McDermott said. "I certainly appreciate that."
McCarron led the Bills comeback in the fourth quarter of the final preseason contest in Chicago, which impressed many of the Bills coaches and his teammates. Although McCarron's departure certainly opens the door to questions about inexperience in the quarterback room, McDermott says that he is confident in both Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen moving forward.
Bills new punter Corey Bojorquez practices for the first time
Throughout training camp, the battle for the starting punter job was fiercely competitive. Colton Schmidt, who was entering his fifth season with the Bills, first competed with second-year undrafted punter Cory Carter. Carter was putting together a solid offseason of work before suffering a torn ACL in the team's second preseason game, prompting the Bills to add veteran Jon Ryan. After Ryan and Schmidt competed in the final two preseason games, the Bills made the decision to let both of them go.
Following Schmidt's release, the Bills signed first-year punter Corey Bojorquez after he was cut by the New England Patriots. Although Bojorquez has never punted in an NFL preseason or regular season game, he had success at the NCAA level. In two seasons with New Mexico, Bojorquez punted 116 times with an average distance of 45.1 yards per punt. Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that it is imperative that Bojorquez work on building crucial relationships early on.
"We look forward to getting him out on the field," said McDermott. "We want him to build that relationship with [Stephen] Hauschka and Reid [Ferguson]."
Although he is inexperienced, McDermott says that Brandon Beane and the rest of the Bills staff have done their due diligence on Bojorquez, and that he feels comfortable adding him to the fray. He also noted that Bojorquez will now be the holder for field goal attempts.
"I think that he has a strong leg obviously he came from New England and he had an interesting preseason, but we look forward to getting him out on the field," McDermott said. "Credit to our scouting staff for doing their work and finding Corey."