Buffalo Bills: Sam Young

Back in September, we broke down the Buffalo Bills' 53-man roster, position-by-position. Now that the Bills' season has ended, we'll review those grades:

Position: Offensive line (preseason grades)

Cordy Glenn -- 100 percent
Eric Wood -- 100 percent
Erik Pears -- 100 percent
Kraig Urbik -- 99.1 percent
Doug Legursky -- 65.9 percent
Colin Brown -- 34.1 percent
J.J. Unga -- 0.9 percent
Thomas Welch -- 0.7 percent
Sam Young -- 0.7 percent
Mark Asper -- no snaps
Antoine McClain -- no snaps


Preseason take: This is a significant concern for the Bills. With Legursky out of action for at least several weeks, they are dangerously thin along the interior of their line. Welch and Young are both younger pieces at tackle, but would be practice squad candidates on most other teams. The Bills sifted through upwards of 15 offensive linemen in training camp and did not come away with much. It'll be a position to address in the draft next spring. Grade: D+

Postseason review: The Bills were fortunate that their offensive line stayed almost fully healthy all season because depth was a significant concern. The Bills continued to sift through players, jettisoning Brown when Legursky returned, and later, swapping out Young for McClain. The Bills picked up Unga on their bye week and he could be a player to develop, but otherwise, the cupboards are mostly bare behind the top group. This grade was accurate and the Bills were fortunate.


Preseason take: Glenn is the youngest starter on what is a relatively experienced position group for the Bills. They can expect consistent play out of Wood, Urbik and Pears. It remains to be seen if Brown can step in for Andy Levitre at left guard and provide a reliable presence over 16 games. Grade: B

Postseason review: From an injury standpoint, this position held up well all season. The age and experience of Wood, Urbik, and Pears came in handy for a young offense but there was still shaky play from the veterans along the line. Brown, of course, was not a reliable option in place of Levitre. He was released once Legursky returned and has been out of football since. This grade may have been a bit generous.

Bills open LG battle, swap backups

October, 7, 2013
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills on Monday claimed guard Antoine McClain off waivers from the Oakland Raiders and released offensive lineman Sam Young, the team announced.

McClain, who stands at 6-foot-5, 336 pounds, has not appeared in a game this season. He spent all of last season on the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad after being signed as an undrafted free agent from Clemson.

The Bills were using Young, who can play both tackle and guard, as their top backup guard until offensive lineman Doug Legursky returned last week from a knee injury.

Legursky was active for the first time this season but did not play in Thursday night's loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Head coach Doug Marrone said Monday that Legursky will now compete with Colin Brown for the starting job at left guard, continuing a battle that began in training camp.

"We do need to improve our play there. That's going to be an open competition," Marrone said. "Both of those players will play at left guard this week against Cincinnati. How we're going to do it, we still haven't finalized that plan. By quarters, by series, whatever it may be, that we're going to work out during the week with the players and what the best situation for all of us to get the stuff out there."

Marrone did not rule out continuing the left guard-by-committee approach, as long as it produces the right results.

"I want that position to play better now. And if two guys playing that position gives us better production, then that might be the way we go. I don't have a problem with that," he said. "If one guy clearly separates himself while they're playing, we'll be able to watch that and see that. I don't have a problem playing one. But that's a position that obviously we need to get more production from."

It's unclear if McClain will factor into the competition at all. With eight offensive linemen on their active roster, McClain may be inactive on game days.

PFF: Colin Brown earns worst Week 1 grade

September, 11, 2013
The Buffalo Bills had an open competition at left guard during training camp to replace Andy Levitre, who departed through free agency.

After cycling several players through the position, fourth-year veteran Colin Brown was tabbed as the starter. He started all four preseason games and continued in that role for Sunday's loss to the New England Patriots.

But according to ProFootballFocus.com, which grades every player on each play, Brown finished with the worst aggregate grade Insider of any in the NFL for Week 1.
When people said that the Bills' left guard spot was a problem area, they weren't lying, were they? Brown beat out Doug Legursky for the starting job (which isn't the hardest thing in the world to do) and promptly did his best to force his coaches to reconsider their decision. In a week that saw some terrible guard play, his took pride of place, giving up a hit and three hurries and being punished against the run. If you could see our grading sheet, you'd see a lot of "stood up at point of attack" next to the name of Brown, who was no match for Vince Wilfork.

If the Bills agree with the assessment -- it's worth noting that head coach Doug Marrone has a background as offensive-line coach and continues to work closely with that unit in practice -- they have few other options.

Legursky remains on the active roster but is out indefinitely with a knee injury. That leaves the Bills without a traditional backup guard/center option. Buffalo's lone reserve options on the offensive line are Sam Young and Thomas Welch, whose backgrounds are mostly at tackle.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Walking off the practice field Sunday, Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone was asked if the team had any immediate plans to fill the open spot on its 53-man roster.

Marrone's answer? Let's wait and see.

"I've been talking to (general manager) Doug (Whaley) about it. Obviously we've been meeting," he said. "I think we have a lot of flexibility with it and we'll see where it goes."

As it turned out, the spot will be filled sooner rather than later. With rookie Dustin Hopkins suffering a groin injury in Monday's practice, the Bills are signing kicker Dan Carpenter to fill in, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

But before Hopkins' injury came to light, Marrone gave insight on one position where they felt the spot may be used.

"Right now the natural position would gravitate probably to the offensive line," Marrone said.

The Bills have eight offensive linemen on their active roster, but their top interior backup, veteran Doug Legursky, is out indefinitely with a knee injury. That leaves Buffalo with just two reserve linemen -- Thomas Welch and Sam Young -- and both are primarily tackles.

But Marrone cautioned against overlooking Young's versatility.

"I would probably label Sam Young as versatile to all four (positions)," he said, referring to Young's ability to play both guard and tackle spots. "Rather than just saying we only have three (interior linemen)."

In three seasons, Young has played 18 games, including four starts (all last season).
Despite making the bulk of their roster cuts on Friday, the Buffalo Bills could still be in for a busy weekend.

Nearly 100 players hit the waiver wire or open market Friday evening, giving the Bills a chance to comb the free-agent landscape for help.

Buffalo's roster stands at 55 players entering Saturday, and while they must get down to 53 players by 6 p.m., it may not be as straightforward as releasing two players. Waiver claims, signings and trades all could be in the forecast.

At what positions might the Bills need a boost? Here's a look:
  1. Cornerback: The Bills have battled injuries at this position since the start of training camp, and their most recent loss is their biggest. Top cornerback Stephon Gilmore is out six to eight weeks with a fractured wrist, creating a gaping hole in the secondary the Bills will try to fill. Outside of Gilmore, the Bills have veterans Leodis McKelvin, Justin Rogers and Ron Brooks under contract -- Brooks has been exclusively playing the slot -- while undrafted rookie Nickell Robey has also been retained to this point. It would be surprising if the Bills go into Week 1 with just those four players healthy. With Crezdon Butler released on Friday, they could use another option to try out at the position.
  2. Interior offensive line: There hasn't been any word on the exact nature of Doug Legursky's leg injury in Thursday night's preseason finale that required him to be carted off the field. The Bills did not place Legursky on injured reserve on Friday, but perhaps that's only because they're waiting for more tests. If it's a season-ending injury, the Bills would be down to just two backups along their offensive line: Thomas Welch and Sam Young. Both play primarily tackle, but could slide inside to guard in an emergency. Still, the Bills are likely on the lookout for interior offensive line help, particularly a player who, like Legursky, can play both guard and center.
  3. Quarterback: Quarterback was the biggest story of the Bills' preseason, and even with EJ Manuel closer to returning to play, they could still be in the market for a veteran backup. They released Matt Leinart on Friday after he posted a dismal 0.0 quarterback rating in Thursday's finale. Thad Lewis, acquired in a trade on Sunday, looks to have earned the No. 3 job, if only by default. The Bills would probably like a player with more experience than Lewis to join Manuel and fellow rookie Jeff Tuel in their quarterback meeting room.