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90 Buffalo Bills players in 90 days: Guard Ike Boettger

When will the steady guard be ready to return?

NFL: NOV 07 Bills at Jaguars Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills have assembled a deep offensive line group, one that prioritizes versatility in its reserves and athleticism in its starters. The big fellas up front may be short on national name recognition (with a few exceptions), but they don’t lack for talent.

In an ideal world, each of the linemen would remain healthy, which would allow for Buffalo’s coaching staff to select the group it wants week in and week out. Of course, that’s not a realistic strategy for the team to bank on, as injuries are just part of the game. When those injuries occur, the next man in line just has to step up and perform.

In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss an offensive lineman who experienced both sides of the injury bug last year.

Name: Ike Boettger

Number: 65

Position: G

Height/Weight: 6’6” 313 lbs

Age: 27 (28 on 10/5/2022)

Experience/Draft: 5; signed with Buffalo following the 2018 NFL Draft

College: Iowa

Acquired: UDFA signing (first time); waiver claim from the Kansas City Chiefs approximately two weeks after initially having been waived by Buffalo

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Boettger signed a one-year deal this offseason. That contract is worth a total of $1,047,500. Of that total, $127,500 is guaranteed via signing bonus. As a vested veteran, his entire salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster Week 1.

2021 Recap: Boettger contracted COVID-19 in July, which delayed his ability to join the team for training camp. After recovering and playing through the preseason, Boettger made the team as a reserve guard. He made his first start in Buffalo’s Week 4 drubbing of the Houston Texans, subbing for Jon Feliciano, who was out with a concussion. When right tackle Spencer Brown suffered a back injury ahead of Buffalo’s Week 8 victory over the Miami Dolphins, they chose to insert Boettger into the starting lineup, moving Daryl Williams outside to right tackle. With Feliciano suffering a calf injury in that game, an ailment that led to him spending the rest of the year on injured reserve, Boettger became the permanent starter in his place. Well, he was the “permanent” starter in the sense that he’d play unless he was injured himself, and in Week 16, that’s exactly what happened. Boettger made nine straight starts at guard before a torn Achilles tendon ended his season. He committed two penalties and allowed just one sack on 636 offensive snaps.

Positional outlook: Boettger joins Rodger Saffold, Ryan Bates, Cody Ford, Jacob Capra, Greg Mancz, and David Quessenberry as players listed at guard on Buffalo’s roster. Tommy Doyle and Derek Kerstetter are seeing reps inside and/or have played there before.

2022 Offseason: Boettger is still rehabbing the Achilles tear, which he suffered at the end of December.

2022 Season outlook: Chances are good that Buffalo places Boettger on the PUP list to begin the season, and he’ll remain there until he’s healthy enough to rejoin the club. I feel fairly confident in saying that Boettger would be a starter had he not suffered the injury, and I also feel confident in saying that Bates would not have had a chance to enter the starting lineup if not for the Achilles tear, either. Boettger has started 17 games over the last two seasons for Buffalo, and they clearly hold him in high regard. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him rejoin the club as a gameday inactive once his time on the PUP list is up, and I think he’ll remain with the team next year, as well. Boettger is a starting-caliber player, so Buffalo is fortunate to have him adding to their depth.