Another position, another review! The 2018 Bills lacked offensive firepower up front and as a result, the offense continued to be anemic. Like the Offensive Tackle position, the Guard and Center position were sorely ineffective and as a result, we should see significant turnover at the positions come 2019. Today’s post will review the injuries sustained at the respective positions in 2018 and how this may play out in 2019.
First up for is G Ike Boettger. The rookie out of Iowa saw game action in 4 games avoiding injury and not drawing any penalties. Like T Conor McDermott, he appears to be another player who was too good to be stashed on the practice squad but not good enough to garner consistent playing time. He appeared in 4 games towards the end of the season recording 0 penalties. While he did get some game experience, it begs the question whether that experience will be enough to earn a roster spot going into 2019 especially with all the recent signings this offseason. He will have to have a strong preseason to stick around next year.
Next is G Wyatt Teller. The former 5th round pick from Virginia Tech in 2018 earned some well deserved playing time appearing in 8 games & starting 7, racking up 2 holding penalties and 2 false starts. He also avoided injury which would have set his progress back. He did show flashes of why he was drafted but at times was inconsistent. While it was not expected that a 5th round draft pick would come in and play exceptionally well, there was still hope that he would demonstrate some ability to play at the next level, which for the most part he did. Having new O-Line coach Bobby Johnson working with him along with several veterans should help Teller to progress. I expect him to return in 2019 as key depth.
G John Miller was at times a frustrating player during his tenure in Buffalo. He was a 3rd round draft pick back in 2015 and initially played well with veteran leadership on the line. However, as the seasons progressed, he became less effective and at times injured, leading to the coaching staff to begin searching for his replacement. While Miller was inconsistent, he did appear and start in 15 games, accruing 4 holding penalties. Injury wise, Miller sustained an ankle and knee injury which appeared to be minor. The veteran lineman did suffer an oblique strain in the win over the Jaguars which forced him to miss the next game. As mentioned before, oblique strains are not awful injuries, but due to the nature of his job in pushing large bodies out of the way, those abdominal muscles were necessary to play effectively at his position. Fortunately for the Bills, Miller left in free agency to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals and be reunited with his former line mate Cordy Glenn.
G Vladimir Ducasse, similar to Miller, has had an up/down time in Buffalo. 2 years ago, he was able to come in and play exceptionally well with Juan Castillo as the O-Line coach and with the offensive scheme by OC Rick Dennison. After the offensive play calling was changed to OC Brian Daboll, Ducasse never seemed to regain the level of play he had in 2017, leading to a drop off and him at times being replaced by the rookie Teller. The veteran guard appeared in 10 games, starting 9 with 1 holding penalty, 3 false starts, and 1 penalty declined. Ducasse also suffered a left knee injury during the loss to the Texans but did not miss any games. Due to his poor play, he may not have a team come after the 2019 training camp unless he finds a new way to re-invent his game.
Transitioning towards the Center position, next up is C/G Ryan Groy. The versatile lineman has shown the ability to play both positions well when called upon, but was found to be inconsistent when asked to do only one position exclusively, specifically at center. Groy had appeared in 15 games with 6 starts, earning 1 false start penalty. Groy has filled in admirably when former Bills C Eric Wood was injured in past seasons, but demonstrated the inability to be a replacement level starter. Fortunately for Groy in 2018, he did not suffer any injuries which may help influence whether he comes back next year. Due to the recent signings of C Mitch Morse, C/G Spencer Long, and G Jon Feliciano, Groy will have to battle exceptionally hard to warrant a roster spot in 2019 and may be back due to his health and versatility.
C Russell Bodine played at times spotty starting at center for the Buffalo Bills in 2018. He played in 10 games with 10 starts suffering 2 holding penalties and a broken fibula. Bodine suffered the injury in the loss to the Dolphins as a result of several large bodies, specifically Dolphins DT Davon Godchaux falling on him and fracturing the fibula bone which required surgery to fix. As a result, his season was over and forced C/G Ryan Groy to pick up the center duties for the rest of the season. In addition to the fibula fracture, Bodine also suffered some type of shoulder injury first noticed in the win over the Jaguars. As far as I could tell, this was not an injury that forced him to miss anytime or affect his play. While it is clearly evident that Bodine will no longer be the starter as C Mitch Morse was signed, he could still prove to be a valuable depth pieces especially with Morse’s injury history. Bodine’s leg will heal fully and should not have any complications for training camp which will be ideal for him as he’ll be fighting for a roster spot. Hopefully Bodine can be a solid depth piece and no longer relied upon as the starter.
Rounding out the remaining players: C/G Spencer Long, C Mitch Morse, and G Jon Feliciano fill out the remaining offensive lineman currently on the roster. While Morse is virtually guaranteed a spot on the 53 man roster due to his play and contract, Long and Feliciano provide versatility and depth that should make the 2019 training camp battle for starting spots something worth your viewing pleasure.
Normally, I put my thoughts on who will make the roster next season in a summary at the end. Outside of G John Miller, who left in free agency, all the players listed above have a realistic chance to make the roster with the only lock being C Mitch Morse. I’m excited for this position group to re-establish the run game and give effective protection to QB Josh Allen.
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