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Posted: Wednesday, 05 December 2012 3:14PM

Not by choice, Bills O-Line going green

Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550)  -- Throughout the course of a regular season, you'll hear players around the league speak along the same lines in regards to losing teammates to injury: it's a part of life in the NFL.
Unfortunately for the Bills and their offensive line, the bad news has been coming in twos at different points of 2012.

Against New England in Week 4, Buffalo saw starting left tackle Cordy Glenn and right guard Kraig Urbik go down with respective ankle injuries that forced two new starters in to the lineup. In the Bills' home loss to Tennessee in Week 7, backup guard Chad Rinehart (who was starting in place of Urbik) and starting right tackle Erik Pears each played their final game of the season before being placed on Injured Reserve.

The one-two punch hit Buffalo one more time, losing starting center Eric Wood and backup swing tackle Chris Hairston (who had been starting in place of Pears) against Jacksonville. Both players will likely be out for at least two games.

With continued setbacks along the offensive line the Bills are now forced, fittingly enough, to start a pair of players that have never graced a starting lineup in their professional careers.

Enter third-year tackle Sam Young and undrafted rookie David Snow.

Between them, they've played a total of 87 snaps this season (79 for Young, 8 for Snow). Compare that to Bills starting right guard Andy Levitre, who has taken 757 snaps throughout the year, and that's all you need to know about how much adversity the Bills might have to attempt to overcome on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

The Rams' 34 sacks are the fourth-best among all 32 teams. It's a St. Louis team that figures to be licking their chops against a pair of inexperienced players.
"They do a great job of rushing the passer," said head coach Chan Gailey. "This might be overall athletic a defensive front, and powerful combined with quickness [a] defensive front that we've played all season. You look at all the guys they rotate through there, they're playing extremely well right now. It'll be challenge for [Young] and [Snow]."

In Young and Snow it's a tale of two stories with different details, but that share a common theme. Each player had to battle through a less than ideal draft, getting cut and biding their time until an opportunity for playing time presented itself.
It's something neither player grew accustomed to in college. Take Young for instance, who started more games for Notre Dame (50) than anyone else in program history. Though not quite as drastic, Snow started in 32 games during his career at Texas, and appearing in 52 total.
"It gets frustrating. Going from college, then you become kind of a reserve player," said Young, who was drafted in the sixth round in 2010 by Dallas before getting cut in 2011. "It's been a long time coming up. I've tried to put a lot of hard work in to it and really just make the most of my opportunity."

"I mean, throughout life, you can't control the situations you're put in. But you can control what you do out of those situations," the undrafted Snow added. "That's basically what you have to do, keep on fighting every day. It doesn't make a difference if you were given a bad hand or a great hand. You just have to keep on fighting either way."

Now each player gets their first chance to start in the NFL. For Young, it's already defined that he'll assume the spot of the fallen Pears and Hairston at right tackle. As for Snow? That's up in the air at this point. Having college experience at both center and right guard, the Bills are trying to decide if it's best to have the rookie snapping the ball or to take Urbik away from his natural position of right guard.

"We're going to work them both [Snow and Urbik] and I'm not sure which way that'll go to be honest with you," Gailey said. "We'll have to wait and see which way is the best way to go by the end of the week."

Gailey's words held up during Wednesday's practice. After the session Snow said he played at both center and right guard with the first team.

Having two brand new offensive linemen in the game might cause the running game to struggle a tad, which may put more pressure on the likes of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bills' signal-caller, now in his third season with Buffalo, said it's a 'been there, done that,' sort of situation for him.

"For whatever reason the last few years it's something we've had to deal with on more than one occasion, plugging in new guys," he remarked. "We'll see on Sunday. What I say all the time is I can't sit there and worry about all those little things. We can do some stuff to help them out in terms of schemes, but at some point they have to go out there and be productive and win those one-on-one battles."

Not used to the spotlight in his three years, Young could utter only one word when a horde of cameras and reporters flooded over to his locker, shining the lights off the tops of their cameras in his face.


Against the likes of Chris Long and the at times dominating St. Louis defensive line that will rush at them with even more fervor than that school of reporters, the Bills are just hoping the green Young, and the young Snow each hold their own on Sunday.

All photos courtesy of AP