Undrafted free agent Peters defies odds in making first Pro Bowl

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Jason Peters' rise to the upper echelon of offensive linemen almost never happened.

An undrafted rookie free agent signed in 2004, the 6-foot-4, 340-pound Peters was almost too flexible for his own good. Because of his unique blend of size, strength and agility, he always seemed to have problems finding an ideal position. Now Buffalo's mammoth left tackle has been selected to his first Pro Bowl.

"Sometimes you can be too versatile that they can't find a spot for you, but I kept pushing," said Peters, the first Bills offensive lineman since Ruben Brown in 2003, and first offensive tackle since Howard Ballard in 1993, to be headed to the Pro Bowl. "I just go out and try to get better than I was the day before."

Peters began his collegiate career at Arkansas as a defensive end before he was switched to tight end. As a rookie, he was used on special teams and as a tight end in goal line situations before permanently making the move to offensive line during training camp prior to the 2005 season.

That's when Peters asked former head coach Mike Mularkey to "put me in a spot and keep me there."

"He made the switch for me and put me on the field," Peters said of Mularkey, who coached the Bills for two seasons beginning in 2004.

Peters moved from right tackle to left tackle last season after a shuffling of the Bills offensive line during a bye week, officially putting an end to myriad roles he's undertaken the past several years as a pro and college player.

"Jason's a tremendous story," coach Dick Jauron said. "He's very talented and very driven to be the best."

"He's got outstanding size, he's got tremendous athletic ability, and he's nasty," offensive line coach Jim McNally said. "He's got quick feet, balance ... you name it, he's got all those skills."

McNally thinks so much of Peters that he compared him to another great tackle he coached in Cincinnati, Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz.

"(Peters) is 50 pounds heavier and just as fast," McNally said. "If he continues on his roll he can be as good as anyone who has ever played. This is only his second full year of starting, so I think his progress is right on schedule."

Peters anchors a revamped Bills offensive line that has steadily improved this season. The group of Peters, Melvin Fowler, Derrick Dockery, Brad Butler and Langston Walker has not allowed a sack in three consecutive games, tying a team record. And rookie running back Marshawn Lynch is only 60 yards away from 1,000 for the season despite missing three games because of an ankle injury.

"He's been doing his thing this whole year," Lynch said. "He's been taking care of me. He probably wants to see me get this 1,000 more than I want to get this 1,000. He's stayed on me about it, week in and week out, asking me, 'How close are we to it?' So I'm glad for him."

"I think he's one of the best athletes in the league," added Lynch's backup, Fred Jackson. "He's always going to take care of his guy, so you never have to worry about him."

Peters got attention in his rookie year when he blocked a punt in a game against the Bengals and recovered the loose ball in the end zone for his first career touchdown. He added his first career touchdown reception in the 2005 season opener against Houston on a tackle-eligible play before starting the first of nine straight games at right tackle against New England in Week 8 after Mike Williams was injured.

"He's totally gifted. He's quick as a cat and strong as an ox," McNally said. "There's no ceiling."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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