Demetrius Bell Emerging As Bills Starting Left Tackle

BALTIMORE MD - OCTOBER 24: Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens defends against Demetrius Bell #77 of the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium on October 24 2010 in Baltimore Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bills 37-34. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

Chan Gailey is protecting his left tackle, Demetrius Bell, in more ways than one. Gailey's protection schemes give his tackles help on a fairly frequent basis, and his passing attack gets the ball out of Ryan Fitzpatrick's hands quickly. Still not at full durability following 2009 knee surgery, Bell doesn't practice on Wednesdays.

No one's precisely sure how well Bell is blocking this season, either. The Buffalo News has Bell down for zero - yes, zero - sacks in 11 starts this season, while Ron From NM has him for a still-somewhat-respectable 3.5. One thing is, however, growing in certainty: barring something unforeseen, like an injury, there's a very strong chance that Bell retains his starting left tackle job heading into the 2011 season.

Bills GM Buddy Nix has said in the past that the offensive line was his top priority heading into the 2010 NFL Draft, but he didn't address the position until he took Ed Wang in the fifth round. While he was with San Diego, the Chargers never invested heavily in linemen early in the draft. Given the weakness of the OT class heading into the 2011 NFL Draft, that Chargers trend seems likely to continue, given that the Bills are almost assured of a Top 10 pick.

How Bell finishes off his 2010 campaign will be a critical factor in the future of the left tackle position. If he continues to play at the level he's been performing - or, dare we dream, shows signs of improvement, like he did against Pittsburgh - Bell will have earned a third season, rather than getting one by default.

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