Bills coach Doug Marrone says he's comfortable starting the season with Erik Pears and Seantrel Henderson on the right side of the offensive line.
Barring any injuries or unforeseen developments, they will take the field as new starters at the positions when the Bills open the season in Chicago. The veteran Pears made his first start at right guard in Saturday's preseason game against Tampa. Henderson, the rookie seventh-round draft pick made his first start at right tackle.
Asked about Pears today, Marrone complimented his play against Tampa defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
"I thought he did some really good things against who I respect as one of the top players at his position," Marrone said. "I like him there at right guard, and I like Seantrel at right tackle. I’m not going to totally commit myself to it. … If an injury occurs something might change. But if everyone remains healthy . .. and they continue to keep playing like they’re playing, I see that as how we’ll go."
That shift puts veteran guard Kraig Urbik in jeopardy of making the 53-man roster, if everyone stays healthy the next week. The starting left guard is Chris Williams. He sat out practice Monday due to a sore back and missed the Tampa game. But rookie fifth-round pick Cyril Richardson worked with the starters again in Monday's practice in Williams' place.
Meanwhile, Marrone didn't mince words about the team's backup QB situation, with both Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel struggling during the summer.
Is it a concern that your backup quarterbacking isn't good enough, Marrone was asked.
"Yes it is," he replied. "I think it’s what you see. I think either they have to play better or we have to look to see if there’s someone that can better that position, like with any other position. If we feel at the end of the day it’s not good enough to win with – which we haven’t seen that yet – there’s only two ways to go. Either you put a lot of work into those guys and get them better till you get to that position where you feel comfortable with it. Or you have to upgrade that position some other way."
What about the starting QB? Asked if EJ Manuel gives him confidence the Bills can be a playoff team, Marrone said:
"At that position, we have to have people around him playing well, there’s no doubt about that. We have to play well around him."
"There are things that go on that are very difficult to see," Marrone said, referring to mistakes and breakdowns at other positions. "We’re going to progress with him. He’s not going to turn around and be a franchise guy overnight. That doesn’t happen often in this league. We’re going to work with him. He’s working hard to progress. We’re going to stick with him. I’m going to support him 110 percent, and we’re going to get him better. And the way we improve offensively is we make sure that as he gets better everyone gets better around him."