Walker's move to left tackle going smoothly (Photo Source)
It's not ideal - not for the Buffalo Bills, and especially not for Langston Walker. When asked to do something different for his team, Walker hesitated - but only briefly. He need not have worried - since that date (July 30), Walker has surprised in his new role as the Bills' starting left tackle. His play has been so strong - stronger, perhaps, than in 2007, his first year as the team's right tackle - that the Bills' offensive line has remained a strength to date this pre-season.
Pass Protection a Team Strength
Even without holdout left tackle Jason Peters - with whom the Bills have not officially communicated since January 15 - Buffalo's pass protection has looked excellent through two pre-season games. Trent Edwards has been sacked once in 25 offensive plays, and as a majority rule has had plenty of time to throw the football. Walker has been at the forefront of that success - Buffalo's coaching staff has been quite willing to let Walker handle opposing speed rushers one on one, and while it was he who allowed the sack on Edwards, his pass blocking has otherwise been top-notch.
In fact, the Bills' offensive line does not look much less effective in pass protection this pre-season than they were in the latter stages of 2007, when Peters was still with the team. Indeed, Walker's play - along with the steady play of Kirk Chambers at right tackle - has almost made Bills fans forget Peters when Edwards is dropping back to throw.
Walker has not, however, been as steady in the rushing attack (which is a fact that holds true for the entirety of Buffalo's starting offensive line). We'll let Ron From NM, our resident O-Line guru, take it from here:
Walker had an up and down night with run blocking. He had two good runs, 1 and 7, and two bad runs, 2 and 3. He did decently on 5 runs. On runs 2 and 3 he was beaten on the first step. The LB ran right past the RB on run 2 and chased the play from behind on run 3. On run 1 Walker drove the DE 5 yards down the line away from the play and on run 7 he tossed a LB out of the run lane.
Despite his shortcomings in the run department - and it's important to note that Buffalo's rushing attack was quite effective in its most recent pre-season game, a win over Pittsburgh - Dick Jauron has been impressed with Walker's play at left tackle thus far:
“I think Langston is really good so I anticipated he would do fine,” Jauron said. “He’s just a good football player left or right and he’s done well.”
As long as Walker is at left tackle, Bills fans can feel semi-comfortable about Buffalo's offensive line. Walker has not been perfect, but he's been much better than anticipated on the left side. What's more, the biggest worry with the switch (whether or not the 6'8", 366-pound Walker could handle speed rushers) has not yet manifested itself to the point where it's a glaring weakness for the offensive line.
Has Langston Walker made Bills fans forget the name Jason Peters? Not even close, and he likely won't. But his play has been a calming influence on an offense that might have been thrown into chaos by Peters' decision to hold out. That in itself proves Walker's value to the team: he's done a great job holding the unit together until Peters returns. That's far more than enough for now.