Rookies Posluszny, Butler named starters for Bills

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Dick Jauron has no concerns that the Bills just got younger after announcing Sunday that rookie linebacker Paul Posluszny and second-year guard Brad Butler will start the regular season.

A bigger concern for the Bills coach is the sudden lack of experienced depth the team has at defensive end a week before Buffalo hosts Denver to open the season.

"We're looking at all the options," Jauron said, noting the team hasn't ruled out signing a free agent this week. "We really got unlucky there unfortunately."

The Bills are back to Square 1 in their search for defensive end depth after Al Wallace was placed on the reserve-injured list Saturday because of a shoulder injury he sustained in Buffalo's preseason finale at Detroit last week.

Wallace, a seven-year veteran, had only signed a week earlier and was being counted upon to be the team's primary backup to starters Aaron Schobel and Chris Kelsay.

Buffalo's ranks were already depleted with Ryan Denney out indefinitely with a broken left foot, and with Anthony Hargrove suspended by the NFL for the first four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Barring the Bills signing someone this week, Eric Powell becomes the team's lone backup, the player having yet to appear in an NFL game four years since completing his college career at Florida State.

Jauron said the Bills will consider using different formations or shifting a defensive tackle to play on the end when necessary.

The Bills are already young to begin with, having seven starters with less than two years of NFL experience.

Jauron's decision to name Posluszny his starting middle linebacker didn't come as a surprise after the second-round draft pick out of Penn State capped a solid preseason. Posluszny finished second on the team with 18 tackles and added a sack in four preseason games.

A two-time college defensive player of the year, Posluszny takes over the play-calling duties for a revamped unit that lost linebackers London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes and cornerback Nate Clements this offseason.

Butler's emergence at right guard, however, was unexpected after he missed most of training camp and all but one preseason game with a hamstring injury. The second of Buffalo's two fifth-round picks, Butler appeared in only two games last season and beat out nine-year veteran Jason Whittle and third-year player Duke Preston for the job.

"We just think he gives us our best chance in there," Jauron said. "It's not going to be easy. It's never easy to play in this league. But I have confidence he'll get it done."

Butler's addition completes revamped offensive line, featuring only two returning starters, left tackle Jason Peters and center Melvin Fowler. The unit is rounded out by left guard Derrick Dockery and right tackle Langston Walker, Buffalo's two high-priced free-agent additions this offseason.

"If they told me tomorrow that I was going to move to defensive tackle then that's what I would do," Butler said. "I just want to go out there and help my team out as much as possible."

Jauron, speaking for the first time since the Bills made their final cuts on Saturday, also explained the decision to go with only two quarterbacks -- starter J.P. Losman and rookie third-round pick Trent Edwards -- after the team released veteran backup Craig Nall.

The coach credited Edwards for playing up to his potential so far, the quarterback coming off a strong preseason in which he went 46-of-61 for 332 yards passing and a touchdown in four games.

"I think he's earned our respect," Jauron said. "And he's earned our belief that he will execute at a high level and help us win football games if he has to."

Jauron said the team is considering adding a third quarterback, but only to its practice squad.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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