PITTSFORD, N.Y.—Mike Pettine is expecting big things from second-year guard Joel Bitonio.
After stepping in immediately as a rookie in 2014, Bitonio even received mention as a Pro Bowl candidate as a rookie. Pettine thinks Bitonio is ready to breakout and take his game to another level.
“I think he showed flashes of it as a rookie and the way he has prepared himself for this season,” Pettine said. “I just think he is ready to take that next step. Is that going to show up in anything statistical that you can point to and say he is playing at a high level? Part of that choice, too, is what I followed up with.
“Our breakout players – we are building through our lines, and we think he is ready to take the next step.”
Bitonio started all 16 games at left guard after being drafted 35th overall. Bitonio played every offensive snap and was honored to the Pro Football Writer’s Association All-Rookie team and the only rookie named to the PFWA All-AFC team.
Bitonio isn’t worried about individual accolades, but just being focused on how the offense is coming together. He thinks the offense will be strong, once the group is playing at full strength.
“We have three preseason games,” Bitonio said. “We have a bunch of practices. I think we weren’t at full strength – offensive line, running backs haven’t been in there. This zone scheme, we’ve been in it for a year, but it still takes time with the quarterback, with the running back, with the receivers all on the same page.
“We’re moving the ball in other ways right now on offense,” he said. “I think once we get going, by Week 1, we’ll be ready to go in that aspect.”