Bills' Kouandjio getting Day 1 run with first team
by Joe Buscaglia,posted May 28 2014 2:48PM
When the Buffalo Bills selected Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio with their second round selection, there was a looming school of thought that he would factor into the starting equation almost immediately at right tackle. While the Bills weren't all the way in with that line of thinking, they gave Kouandjio a big compliment by splitting first-team reps between he and the incumbent Erik Pears.
Before all of his medical concerns, Kouandjio was billed as a potential first-round pick. Since the Bills are taking the 'win now' approach, taking a swing on a player with Kouandjio's ability and potential was a risk worth taking in their minds. So far, he's rewarded them with getting about half of the first-team reps at right tackle on the very first day of Organized Team Activities.
Head coach Doug Marrone believes very strongly with throwing his younger players in to see if they sink or swim in the pool known as practice.
"I'm always big, and I tell this to the coaches: when you feel that someone is ready to go from a standpoint of knowledge where they're not gonna get anybody hurt... throw 'em in there," the head coach said. "The thing I always hate about this profession is you get a kid, and you want to bring him along so to say. I'm not talking about quarterback, I'm talking about all the other positions. Then all of a sudden, you're kind of bringing him along and then year one goes by, you like him, year two goes by and you're like 'uh, uh, uh,' and then all of a sudden you're sitting there in year three and you don't know what you have."
With the Bills approaching the 2014 season like they are, it's smart to see what they have at each and every position in hopes to unearth any hidden gems from the depths of the roster. That isn't really the case with the highly touted Kouandjio, but it could be the case for others as OTAs, minicamp and training camp becomes part of the practice regimen.
"I've had a lot of success by taking young guys and once they knew what they're doing, hey, throw them in there with the first group and see what they can do," Marrone said. "I think you'll see a lot of that as we go forward in camp and go forward with the progression of our installation. And we have an opportunity with resting some guys that we know can go out there and do it."
Kouandjio replaced Pears as the starting right tackle after the latter got a few reps with the first team. During 11-on-11s, the reps were split almost evenly with Pears getting just a little more. The two are thought to be in a competition to be the starting right tackle in 2014.