ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. Andy Levitre knows the rash of injuries along the offensive line isn’t anything to be taken lightly. But he’s aware the sky isn’t falling either.
When the Bills (2-10) host the (5-7) on Sunday, they’ll be sporting a new center and right guard. That’s because center Geoff Hangartner and right guard Kraig Urbik sustained knee injuries in Sunday’s loss at Minnesota.
That’s caused a domino effect. Starting right guard Eric Wood, who returns after missing two games because of an ankle injury, shifts to center, and backups Ed Wang and Cordaro Howard will split right-guard duties.
“There’s definitely a change, but just because someone goes down doesn’t mean everyone’s going to play terrible,” left guard Levitre said Wednesday. “You want to have your best guys on the field, but injuries sometimes hamper that. So it hurts the team as a whole, but it’s not going to ruin everybody’s day. You have to fight through adversity, and we’ve had a lot of that this year.”
Wood isn’t too concerned about sliding to center. He played the position at Louisville, and has kept sharp throughout the season by snapping the ball while the special teams do their drills in practices.
“The first couple of days will be a challenge getting everybody jelling,” Wood said. “We’ll do all right. We’ve got guys that know what they’re doing that are hopping in. I don’t think it’ll be too rough of a transition. There’s some little nuances at that position that are different than any other spot. Starting the play with your hands between your legs is one of them.”
With the revamped line, the Bills may be forced to use more of a short passing game as well as utilize a ground attack led by Fred Jackson.
“We have to try and get on the same page,” Jackson said. “The best thing we can do throughout this week is try to figure each other out. I’ve never been behind (Wood) at center, so it’s going to be one of those things where the more work we can get in this week, the more communication in the film room, and the more we can understand what everyone’s thinking, the better we’ll be.”
“You get to know guys throughout the season and we’re meeting all the time,” said Levitre, who replaced Hangartner vs. the . “It’s not like I’m playing with somebody I never met before, and never talked to. You develop relationships throughout the weeks.”
The Bills had been relatively healthy along their offensive line this season except for right tackle, where they’re on their third starter. The cohesiveness and continuity, though, has now taken a hit that they must be able to absorb and shake off if they want to snap a two-game losing streak following a two-game winning stretch.
“The moving parts up there always makes it tough,” said quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was sacked once, hit five times, lost two of three fumbles, and threw an interception against Minnesota. “We have to take advantage of these practices and meeting-room time. It’s all about communication and getting everybody on the same page, and from there hoping we get the job done.”
Notes: Cornerback Terrence McGee returned to practice Wednesday after missing the last two games because of a nerve problem behind his knee. The injury has kept him sidelined for eight games. … Fullback Corey McIntyre missed Wednesday’s practice. … The Bills rank 18th in the league with 24 sacks allowed through 12 games. Last season, they gave up 46 sacks, which tied Washington for fourth-highest allowed in the NFL. … Levitre has started all 28 games since being drafted in the second round in 2009.