Bills look to improve shaky rushing attack

Marshawn Lynch has only averaged 3.5 yards per carry for the Bills this season...

It looks as if Trent Edwards will be able to return to action and play against San Diego on Sunday.

While that will give the Bills offense a boost, one of the biggest keys to success against the rejuvenated Chargers will be whether Buffalo can get its running game in gear. So far in 2008, it's been idling in neutral. Edwards was back to work on Monday and participated fully in the Bills' workout, and it appears he will be ready to start after suffering a concussion in the Oct. 5 loss at Arizona. But Edwards needs help from the running game to take some of the stress away from the passing game.

Heading into Week 7, the Bills rank 23rd in the NFL in rushing at 98.4 yards a game. One of the bigger problems has been a lack of push up front from what is, on paper, the heaviest line in the NFL, as backs Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson haven't had much room to run.

"We're a work in progress," right tackle Langston Walker said. "It hasn't been as good as it was last year. Obviously, we haven't gotten Marshawn over 100 yards in a game yet, but he has scored. We're running more in the red zone, which was an emphasis from our coaches. So we're going to take this week and re-evaluate things and I guess, in coach speak, self-scout, and see if we can change things and make things better."

Lynch is averaging only 3.5 yards per carry, and there have been times when he has been trapped behind the line and done yeoman's work just to make a positive gain of any type. He has also had a few 20-plus-yard runs called back due to offensive line penalties. Last season as a rookie, Lynch averaged 4.0 yards per carry, but even then, the Bills were not a team that consistently established a punishing ground attack, and the same thing is happening thus far in 2008.

"As a team, we need to run the ball more effectively," said offensive line coach Sean Kugler, who took over for the retired Jim McNally in the offseason. "It's going to help us in a lot of areas. It sets up a lot of things by being efficient in the run game. ... We know we have to play better for the offense to be more efficient. Those guys (on the offensive line) will accept that challenge, because it is a good group."

When the running game has bogged down, opposing defenses have been able to get the Bills in passing situations, and they have turned loose their pass rush. The Bills' quarterbacks have been sacked 16 times after going down just 26 times in all of 2007. Arizona got ahead early against Buffalo and finished with five sacks, though Losman was to blame on a couple of those because he held the ball far too long.

One of the problems up front was the offseason holdout of left tackle Jason Peters. He ended up sitting out the first game, and he has not played well in the four games he has played, though Kugler stubbornly denies this.

"Jason's really been playing pretty well," Kugler said. "I know it gets skewed because there has been one or two things a game that he's had an issue with. He's working his tail off to get to where he wants to be. He's a very prideful player. He wants to be the best. He will be. I have no problem with his work ethic, and I have no problem with how he's progressing."


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