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Howard Simon's Blog

Training Camp Preview:Offense

After focusing on the defense in part one of my training camp preview, the offense gets equal time in part two.  While the Bills spent a lot of time and a ton of money on the defense in the off season, the offense hasn't exactly been ignored. Although on that side of the ball, money was spent to keep good players around.

You can actually go back to last season's 7 year, $62 million extension for Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting point.  That's the first guy on offense I'll be watching come Thursday afternoon.  More on that in a moment.

If you've laid out big money for a player you believe is your franchise quarterback then you need to keep his weapons.  Buffalo did that by not letting top receiver Stevie Johnson hit the free agent market, instead giving him a 5 year, $36 million deal.

Buffalo also re-signed Offensive linemen Kraig Urbik and Chad Rinehart, as well as tight end Scott Chandler and extended the contract of running back Fred Jackson.

The offense has made tremendous strides under the direction of Chan Gailey but there are still some questions about its on field leader.  Will we see the Ryan Fitzpatrick from the first seven games of the 2011 season or the final nine games? Was his complete collapse due to what was believed to be a rib injury suffered during the win over Washington in the 7th game or was it just a case of his short comings and inconsistency rearing its ugly head?

One thing to look for in the pre-season practices and exhibition games will be whether or not the tutelage of new QB Coach David Lee will pay immediate dividends.  Lee has been working with Fitzpatrick on his mechanics in an effort to cut down on  bad throws.  Fitzpatrick led the league with 23 interceptions last season.

Then there's the Vince Young factor.  Assuming he beats out Tyler Thigpen(which shouldn't take much) for the second string job, is Young a threat for the top spot?  What kind of a leash will Gailey have on Fitzpatrick? If he struggles out of the gate in a season where many believe the Bills can end their 12 year playoff drought, how long before Gailey goes to the football version of the bullpen?

Personally I wouldn't even consider the idea until after the first four games of the season and I'd be hesitant to make a change based mostly on the fact I don't think Young would be much of an improvement.  I think it would have to be a five alarm fire before Gailey benches Fitzpatrick since the two have a very strong working relationship.

The next most intriguing story on offense is the battle for the number two wide receiver position.  On paper, the Bills had a very successful off season but it would have been even better if they were able to land Robert Meacham.

Donald Jones seemingly has the inside track on the rest of the field as the Bills look for another threat to keep defenses from rolling their coverage to Stevie Johnson.  The good news is they haven't had that guy the last two years and it still didn't keep Johnson from recording 1,000 yard seasons.

There is a wild card in the mix and that would be Marcus Easley.  The Bills fourth round pick in the 2010 draft has the size, skill set and speed to be a valuable weapon in the passing game but we'll never know until he actually steps on the field for a game.  Easley hasn't made it out of camp the last two years due to an injury(2010) and a heart condition(2011).

I'll be keeping an eye on rookie wideout T.J. Graham who brings blazing speed with his game but how quickly can he pick up the offense and earn the trust of Fitzpatrick?

There are no questions in the backfield where, after watching C.J. Spiller's performances over the final six games of last season, you can say the Bills have two starting running backs. 

I won't be watching the breakdown of carries in camp because I think Fred Jackson will (and should) be the main ball carrier.  But it will be interesting to see how much Gailey shows when it comes to Spiller's role.  They can use him in a number of ways including a two back set with Jackson or set out as a wide receiver which Spiller was forced to do last season due to a rash of injuries.

The best battle for a starting spot on the 2012 Bills will be on offense.  Second round draft pick Cordy Glenn will be going up against second year pro Chris Hairston for the left tackle job.  Hairston made seven starts in 2011 as a rookie and played like a rookie with some good days and some not so good days.

When Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey took control of the football operations in 2010, one of their goals was to make the Bills bigger up front on both sides of the ball.  Glenn would certainly do that, standing at 6'5" and weighing in at 345 pounds. 

Whether or not Glenn can win the starting job isn't the only question about the Georgia product.  Many scouts projected him as a guard in the NFL but the Bills are steadfast in their belief that Glenn can succeed protecting the quarterback's blind side.

I'll also be checking out center Eric Wood to make sure he looks okay.  Literally and figuratively the anchor of the offensive line, Wood is coming off a second major injury in his young NFL career after tearing an ACL last season. 

WGR will provide extensive daily coverage of the Bills training camp on both the station and the web site.

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Topics : Sports
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Locations : BuffaloGeorgiaWashington
People : C.J. SpillerChad RinehartChan GaileyChris HairstonDavid LeeDonald JonesEric WoodFred JacksonKraig UrbikMarcus EasleyNixRobert MeachamRyan FitzpatrickScott ChandlerStevie JohnsonT.J. GrahamTyler Thigpen(which

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