Good news for Abraham and Ellis - Bills have no LT

Last season, the revolving door was at left guard. This year, it could be at left tackle.

Unless free agent Mike Gandy rises to the challenge that has presented itself.

The Bills are scrambling to shore up the most important hole on their line after the departure of Jonas Jennings to San Francisco, and have started what could be a long evaluation process by giving Gandy first crack at the job.

Gandy, looking for a fresh start after being let go by the Chicago Bears late last season, took all the repetitions with the first unit during Buffalo's recent mini-camp, a move made strictly based on his experience at the position.

Of Gandy's 30 NFL starts, 20 have come at left tackle. That's 20 more than second-year pro Jason Peters, who is attempting to convert from tight end, has under his belt. Peters is an intriguing prospect but purely a project at this stage, leaving line coach Jim McNally with few options.

It's why McNally would love to see the 6-4, 310-pound Gandy nail down the left tackle job so that he's not forced to make the bolder move of shifting center Trey Teague.

That would allow three positions to remain intact from a year ago -- center (Teague), right guard (Chris Villarrial) and right tackle (Mike Williams). That would leave left tackle and left guard open for exploration.

With Ravens free agent Bennie Anderson and incumbent Ross Tucker, two very good players, competing at left guard, that spot is a lot less cloudy than left tackle.

"If he (Teague) was going to go there, we'd give him a few reps but we'd rather not disrupt the continuity that we do have," McNally said. "That's at least three and we develop the next two. I worked for Paul Brown a number of years and he said that when you have to make personnel changes, the least guys to move the better."

McNally likes Gandy's size and his smarts and likes the fact he's hungry after being let go by another team. Gandy's career seemed to be going well until the Bears shifted him inside. After starting five games last year, the Bears cut him in November.

"Being an experienced player, the league is all about ups and downs and overcoming adversity," Gandy said. "I knew what kind of player I was last year and I know what kind of player I am this year. I have a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities and I just want to try and improve on them."

If Gandy doesn't work out, the Bills won't hesitate to make the move with Teague, who started 20 games for Denver before coming to Buffalo three seasons ago. Tucker, who has played well at center, could easily slide into the role full time. Meanwhile, it's not inconceivable that fourth-round pick Ray Preston could handle the job as a rookie. Preston (6-5, 311) has great size and played in a pro-style offense at Illinois.

McNally admitted that he wouldn't know his starting five for certain until the hitting starts in summer camp at St. John Fisher College in Rochester.

That's what happened last year at left guard. Marques Sullivan was No. 1 in mini-camp but heading into training camp, Mike Pucillo sat atop the depth chart. Once the hitting began, it wasn't long before first-year free agent Lawrence Smith took over the job. Smith started eight games then gave way to Tucker.

It's up to Gandy to prevent that kind of musical chairs at left tackle.


Jets Insider Top Stories