ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 04: Erik Pears #79 of the Buffalo Bills blocks against Derrick Morgan #90 of the Tennessee Titans at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York.Tennessee won 23-17. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Wondering how much progress the Buffalo Bills have made at tackle since the start of the 2010 season - the first for GM Buddy Nix and head coach Chan Gailey? When the team cut down to 53 players in September of that year, they did so with five tackles on the roster: Demetrius Bell, Cornell Green, Jamon Meredith, Cordaro Howard and Ed Wang.
None of those players remain with the team. Nor does veteran Mansfield Wrotto, who spent key parts of the season as the starting right tackle.
Today, the Bills have six tackles on the roster, and for the first time since he took over the job, Nix appears comfortable with the talent and depth on hand at the position.
Three of the players were drafted, starting with 2011 fourth-round pick Chris Hairston. He'll try to hold off 2012 second-round pick Cordy Glenn for the starting left tackle job. Meanwhile, 2012 fifth-round pick Zebrie Sanders will play the right side, where he'll provide depth with upside. Erik Pears has earned a contract extension as the starting right tackle, and the team likes veteran Sam Young and undrafted rookie free agent Paul Madsen (brother of the NBA's Mark Madsen), as well.
Buffalo has typically only kept nine offensive linemen on the active roster under Gailey (with seven active on game days), and with quality depth at guard and center to boot, it appears that the Bills may be in a position where they'll have to cut a good lineman this fall. That's a marked improvement from the group that the team started with in 2010.