While many who watch the Buffalo Bills offensive line have worried most about the left tackle position and Cordy Glenn’s health, another battle in the trenches rages on toward conclusion. John Miller, drafted by Doug Whaley and the Bills in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, is currently in a fight with veteran Vladimir Ducasse, who signed with the Bills as a free agent in March. The winner will start at right guard, while the loser is in danger of losing his spot on the team altogether.
Head Coach Sean McDermott said in a press conference Tuesday that right guard “is still an open competition” between Miller and Ducasse. Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News noted that Ducasse’s experience with offensive line coach Juan Castillo’s system gives him a leg up in terms of understanding assignments, but his play has not warranted much positive attention.
While neither has played incredibly well in preseason games, Miller has seemingly outperformed Ducasse in both run blocking and pass protection. Combine this with the fact that cutting Ducasse and a combination of two other free agents signed this year could net Buffalo an additional third-round draft pick, and the prospect of keeping a below-average veteran in Ducasse becomes even less appealing.
Perhaps most interesting about this “open competition” is that the man who can be assumed to be Buffalo’s top interior line reserve, Ryan Groy, has yet to take any snaps with the first team at the position. If the intent is truly to put the best five linemen on the field at once, it would make sense to give Groy a shot. He played quite well in Eric Wood’s place last season, and the team even matched a 2-year offer worth $5 million from the Los Angeles Rams when Groy was a restricted free agent this offseason.
If nothing else, this will give us something important to watch regarding the front end of the roster when the Bills take on the Detroit Lions on August 31. It will be interesting to see how the reps are divided and how the two men perform knowing that they may have everything to lose.