Bills rookie camp: Team in position to develop offensive linemen the right way

Tackles Spencer Brown and Tommy Doyle and center/guard Jack Anderson will not be thrust into action before they're ready.
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If the toughest thing to do in sports is hit a baseball, the second toughest has to be trying to backpedal in a vertical set and block some guy named DeMarcus or some such.

Ask any offensive tackle in the NFL. They'll tell you.

Better yet, watch the malfunctions that plague all the league's rookies, who often are made to look like they're stuck in quicksand.

The Bills, who took offensive linemen with three of their eight picks in this year's NFL Draft, have the luxury of being able to develop them all without a rush. All their starters as well as some depth pieces return from last season's offensive juggernaut.

Tackles Spencer Brown (third round) and Tommy Doyle (fifth round) and center/guard Jack Anderson (seventh round) will not be thrust into action before they're ready.

The toughest challenge they faced this weekend was figuring out where each was going to sit after discovering that they all took connecting flights to Chicago, where they would board their final flight to Buffalo together.

"It was quite the scene," Anderson told reporters via a Zoom call. "Heads were being ducked and they were trying to figure out where we were going to fit. ... Definitely not in a middle seat. So they had to move some of us around. It was pretty funny."

Anderson, at 6-4, 314, is relatively tiny compared to Brown (6-8, 315) and Doyle (6-8, 320).

Nevertheless, they were all eager to get to Buffalo to unfold their massive bodies and get to work.

For Anderson, the best path toward being active on gameday is learning the center position so he could be a viable backup option for three spots.

"Once you know center, you know all the positions," he said. "So I'm going to be telling them where they're going. ... I feel that once you know center, you can play everywhere."

Doyle is just trying to keep his head from spinning out of control.

"It's kind of surreal," he said. "Everything's happening right now, and I'm just kind of soaking it in and taking things one day at a time.

"I'm just trying to show up and do what the coaches ask of me and really compete. That's my job and that's all I'm worried about."

Just walking into the building for the first time had a profound effect on Brown.

"[The coaches] fill the room with excitement," he said. "I'm excited to get started. The energy is really, really high in the building. ... You just walk up in the office and the atmosphere in the building is high enery, and I'm just ready to get to work.

"... I think the big thing is to just digest the playbook and then being around the players and building relationships with them. Jack and Tommy and I all met at the airport and we've pretty much been close since then. I think it's an O-line thing. You can throw random people that play the line together and they'll mesh right away."

Like a true Bills Mafia member, Brown went through a table the night he was drafted by the Bills, instantly endearing himself to fans but also getting the attention of a team that plans to pay him millions of dollars over the next four years.

Suffice to say that he won't be doing that again anytime soon. But if he can inspire fans to do it, it would be a sign that he's doing his job quite well.

Nick Fierro is the publisher of Bills Central. Check out the latest Bills news at www.si.com/nfl/bills and follow Fierro on Twitter at @NickFierro.