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Bills training camp: Offensive line pecking order rounding into form

It’s not about positions, it’s about players

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills are rotating offensive linemen at a feverish clip due to some absences in training camp. Two things that are clear is the back-ups aren’t as good as the starters and there is a clear pecking order already in place.

Dion Dawkins was excused from practice for personal reasons on Friday, marking the fourth offensive lineman to leave the starting lineup in a week. Guard Ryan Bates has been out a couple days with an injury, Spencer Brown hasn’t taken an 11-on-11 rep all camp coming back from injury, and Rodger Saffold still isn’t practicing with his cracked ribs.

First up, Tommy Doyle and David Quessenberry have been the players taking first-team reps in place of Brown and Saffold. Both players are being cross-trained at tackle and guard, and they’ve flip-flopped those positions, establishing themselves as the top two reserves.

When the team needed a third backup to step in, it was Greg Mancz. Mancz also has been working as the second-team center, which would seem to give him another advantage toward a roster spot.

The ninth offensive lineman in the bunch is former second-round pick Cody Ford. That’s not a great indication he will make the roster. With limited upside, the Bills may feel like it’s a better option to keep Luke Tenuta as their ninth OL and a game-day inactive instead.

With all that being said, those second-teamers were welcomed by the Bills’ first-team defensive line on Friday. With Doyle filling in on the left side for Dawkins, he was smoked early and often in his first real test at blind-side since joining the Bills. (I mean, it was Von Miller, but still.) Ed Oliver also whipped Mancz at left guard, leading to a potential injury for Josh Allen when the DT fell low on the QB’s leg.