'Can Bledsoe avoid a pass rush?'

The new Shout! hits newsstands in a few days. It's our first training camp issue and it takes an in-depth look at the Bills' new offense under Kevin Gilbride. Here are some excerpts from the positional previews. Pick up a copy of Shout! at Wegmans or Tops or call 1-800-932-4557 to subscribe.

Can Bledsoe avoid a pass rush?

This once would have been the $64,000 question, though in these inflated days of Goldmember, it's probably more like the one-billion-dollar question. The answer is simple: no.

During Bledsoe's two most recent full seasons, he was sacked 100 times. He's most comfortable dropping back, often seven steps, to pass. He looks stiff and slow as he does so. That immobility also shows itself in his lack of a running game; Bledsoe has scored just two rushing touchdowns and averaged just two yards a carry in nine NFL seasons.

However, that doesn't mean sacks will pile up so fast they'd ruin this Bills season. The key will be finding the right combination of linemen with the right skills to protect their passer.

No matter who plays on Buffalo's offensive line, Bledsoe said he thinks he'll be able to pass the ball without having to run for his life. "I'm confident they're going to put the right combination out there, and I'm going to step back and chuck it."

Is there a 1,000-yard rusher here?

Potentially, sure. At Travis Henry's per-game rate from 2001, he would gain 897 yards if he could play all 16 games - even without the benefit of an improved line. Shawn Bryson had significant playing time in four games, and at his per-game average for them, he would rack up 1,164 yards.

Practically, it's unsure. Henry, Bryson and Sammy Morris all have missed playing time in at least one season - and they've totaled just six years of pro football since college. Only Henry was a feature back in college.

The answer to this question may lie more with how much improvement there will be on the offensive line.


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