Much has been said about the state of the Buffalo Bills' offensive line. Some think the Bills need to add two starting tackles, while others believe Demetrius Bell could be a long-term answer on the left side. But Chris Brown at BuffaloBills.com has been setting some lofty expectations for Erik Pears on the right side.
"I don’t see right tackle as high on the priority list," said the team's official newsman. "It’s fourth behind DL, LB and QB as I see it. The reason why is because of the aforementioned Erik Pears. He was a two-year starter for Denver before he fell out of favor there and bounced around since then. Is he a long term solution? That’s up to the coaches, but he’s at least a proven player at that position in the league and can hold the fort until they cultivate more talent."
Pears was undrafted out of Colorado State in 2005. He signed with the Denver Broncos and spent a year on their practice squad, and also played very well in NFL Europe. He made his NFL debut in 2006, starting 10 games that season and all 16 in 2007. In 2008, the Broncos replaced Pears with former third-round pick Ryan Harris, de-activating Pears for the first seven games of the year.
After declining to re-sign the tackle in Denver, Pears started four games for the Oakland Raiders in 2009. He began the 2010 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars before being released and picked up by the Bills. In his time with Buffalo, he impressed coach Chan Gailey enough to warrant a start in the final game of the season.
"At the right tackle, I’ll be honest with you, I thought Erik Pears played as well as you could expect the last game and a half that he played for us," Gailey said following the season.
Brown has had strong words (for this time of year anyways) on Pears since the season ended. Early in February, Brown responded to a draft question about the offensive line with the following:
"I believe the Bills feel they have at least a short term solution at right tackle in Erik Pears, who was signed late in the season," wrote Brown in his Fan Friday column on February 4. "Pears is a former two-year starter for the Denver Broncos and showed well in the time he got down the stretch in 2010. In my mind he’s the odds on favorite to start at right tackle in 2011, not only because of his steady play, but because he adds a valuable veteran presence to the line."
When he joined the Bills, Pears was looking for a chance. It appears he may just have one.
"I think every opportunity I’ve been given I try to work hard and constantly try to improve where I need to improve and that’s always been my mentality," Pears said in December. "Just do the best I can do and then let the chips fall where they may. If it’s a great fit for me I’d love to be here."