Doug Marrone seems determined to replace Kraig Urbik
PITTSFORD -- First it was J.J. 'Unga.
Then Chris Hairston came along and got a shot at taking Kraig Urbik's job as starting right guard for the Buffalo Bills.
After Hairston, it was rookie Cyril Richardson's turn. Antoine McClain got a look, too, as coach Doug Marrone continued to search here, there and everywhere to find a replacement.
The latest candidate is last year's starting right tackle, Erik Pears, who shifted over to guard with the starting unit during Monday's night practice.
Marrone has said many times during camp he's looking to field the best five linemen possible. The constant juggling suggests he doesn't feel at all comfortable with Urbik being one of them, but the sixth-year pro out of Wisconsin has fended off every challenge so far.
Urbik, 28, played 98.4 percent of the snaps in 2013 for the Bills. He missed one series each against the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens in Weeks Three and Four, and seven snaps against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14. In the past three years, Urbik has started all 39 games in which he's appeared.
Urbik has three years remaining on a four-year contract extension he signed near the end of the 2012 season. He's scheduled to count $3.375 million against the salary cap this year. His release would save the Bills $2.275 million against this year's cap, and leave the team with $1.4 million in dead money next year.
During Monday's practice, Urbik worked as the second-team center. If Marrone finally finds someone he likes better for the starting lineup, Urbik might still have value as a reserve interior lineman. He'd be an upgrade over Doug Legursky as the backup center.
"Urbik knows what he’s doing at center. He’s been one of the backups at center since he got here so he knows what he is doing and from what I saw, it looked like he did a pretty good job today," starting center Eric Wood said after Monday's practice.