Over the course of the Buffalo Bills 2014 mandatory minicamp there was one player that not only got time at a new position, but even saw some starter reps during his time at that new spot.
Chris Hairston, a former fourth-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, left his normal spot at offensive tackle and was shifted inside to right guard throughout the three-day stretch of practices. Since he’s been a member of the organization, it was the first time he’s been moved away from offensive tackle.
With both left tackle and right tackle likely spoken for Hairston’s best chance to not only start, but to make the roster entirely, could be if he shows enough ability at guard throughout the summer. Head coach Doug Marrone explained some of his thinking with trying out the 6-foot-6, 330-pound lineman on the interior.
“He’s a big body and it’s a position for that. We have Kraig Urbik. We have Chris there. We have some of those younger guys that are playing that position,” Marrone said. “It’s hard to judge at this time of year in shorts and how it’s going to shake out, especially up front. So we’re putting everyone in there and giving them an opportunity to learn that stuff so they can go ahead and compete.”
If you’ll recall, Hairston lost his entire 2013 season due to a pair of issues. For one, he had an injury that kept him out of participating of training camp practices. Following that, he had an undisclosed condition that landed him on the Non-Football Illness list, ending his season before it even started.
In 2014, though, he’s fully cleared and back on the field for the Bills throughout their entire offseason program. His hard work has been acknowledged, paving the way for his opportunity at the mandatory minicamp.
“I think he's earned it, to the standpoint of that he's come back after a year off and he's done some great things. I think that when a guy comes back and does what he's doing, it goes across the board for all those guys,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said.
“You want to get those guys in there and see how they are when they get against the, all of a sudden Mario Williams is there. You want to see how they're gonna react, all of a sudden, Kyle Williams is in front of you. That's a big deal.”
Hairston essentially split the first-team reps with incumbent starter Kraig Urbik at right guard over the three-day stretch of practices. Does he serve as Urbik’s biggest competition at training camp?
“I think we will see how that goes as we get closer to camp,” answered Marrone, not wanting to give anything away.
Hairston and the rest of the team are now on a one-month break from football activities at One Bills Drive. They’ll reconvene in Pittsford, New York at St. John Fisher College for the start of training camp on July 20.