Meredith Brings Potential, Athleticism And Maturity Issues to Bills

Posted on September 24, 2009 by Patrick Moran

Two words began running through a majority of Buffalo Bills fans heads even before Brad Butler made it to the sideline this past Sunday, “Jon Runyan.” It didn’t take an Andrew Cappuccino diagnosis to know Butler was through for the year. Runyan may arguably be the biggest free agent out there, both in literal and figurative senses. Ironically, he also happens to exclusively play right tackle. In fact, he’s done that 192 consecutive times in his career. He’s also viewed as one of the toughest and most intelligent offensive linemen in the National Football League; a component the Bills could use.

As useful as Runyan might be to the Bills his best days are clearly behind him. He’s 35-years old and coming off microfracture surgery in his knee. He has suffered the wear and tear of 13 NFL seasons. The Bills brought him in for a workout on September 11 as prospective insurance in case of an injury to Butler or rookie Demetrius Bell. The fact that he has not been signed yet says a lot about the Bills lack of faith in him.

The Bills, instead, have elected to go the project route by signing Jamon Meredith from the Green Bay Packers practice squad. This means Jonathan Scott will occupy the starting right tackle spot for the rest of the season. Kirk Chambers was inactive the first two weeks, but will now be the backup at both tackle positions.

For those unfamiliar with Meredith, there’s no chance he moves into the right tackle spot anytime soon. He didn’t play a single down with the Packers at right tackle; every snap he took was on the left side. Besides that, Meredith is a full-blown NFL project. I spoke with Greg Bedard, the Packers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Bedard says to not expect Meredith to be NFL game ready anytime soon.

“They obviously viewed him as a player who could not contribute this year,” said Bedard. “They (Green Bay) have a ton of tackle problems right now and that they decided to just let him go speaks volumes.” Even if he’s not prepared to blossom into a star right at this moment, make no mistake- Bedard says he is a legitimate prospect.

Meredith was the second of two fifth round selections (162 overall) by Green Bay this spring. A fifth-year senior at South Carolina, Meredith was regarded by many as having second round talent. However, his attitude that often clashed with coaches caused some teams to look past him on draft day. As a result, 14 offensive tackles were selected ahead of him.

“He has all the tools to be a left tackle in the NFL,” Bedard said. “He’s long and has extremely quick feet. He just needs at least a year of seasoning to get stronger. He’s a little bit of a project, but if done right — and the Packers’ plan was just to let him develop for a year and see where he was — he could turn out to be a solid pro. That’s if he doesn’t prove to be a headache all the scouts thought he would be.”

What Bedard is referring to an article from this past May by fellow Journal Sentinel writer Bob McGinn. In that article McGinn spoke on the record with South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier. According to McGinn, neither Spurrier nor several members of his coaching staff held back on their feelings about Meredith. They thought Meredith needed a lot of seasoning with maturity.

McGinn outlined a few of the negative remarks concerning Meredith. “We had multiple coaches tell us, even the strength coach, that he was kind of a pain in the (expletive),” a personnel director for an AFC team said. “He’s not a lazy kid. He’s not a bad kid. They said he’s just kind of a bitcher and a moaner at times.”

Meredith responded to these remarks in the Journal Sentinel. “No character issues,” said Meredith after being drafted, adding that he has never been arrested or tested positive for drugs. “I’m a great guy. I love football. Just being a Green Bay Packer and having a chance to be a Green Bay Packer is enough motivation for me.”

While he wasn’t good enough to make the Packers active roster, the Bills staff saw enough things they liked to take him away from the Green Bay practice squad. This means Meredith must remain on the Bills 53-man active roster for at least three weeks.

Bill Huber covers the Packers for Scout.com. He agrees with the majority in that Meredith is a good prospect who’s not ready to play now. “He’s a good prospect, Huber said. “A lot of the so-called experts considered him a second-round prospect, maybe a third-rounder. He slipped into the fifth, and it was obvious why during training camp. He’s raw and really needs to get stronger.”

Why the Bills would sign a player as wet behind the ears as Meredith to fill a roster spot is puzzling to say the least. They’re already woefully inexperienced at offensive tackle, especially with Butler gone. Demetrius Bell has all of two starts, and Scott’s start Sunday against New Orleans will be his first with the Bills, just the seventh of his career and first since 2007 with Detroit. Conventional wisdom said the Bills would target a veteran tackle to provide depth. Apparently, they didn’t see enough of what they like in Runyan or any other veteran free agent. As a result, the team is gambling heavily that newcomers Bell and Scott can stay healthy and perform at a high NFL level.

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7 Comments on Meredith Brings Potential, Athleticism And Maturity Issues to Bills

  1. Bill Perry

    Why? Because the Bills are cheap. They have a young QB with a lot of potential, and they should spend money this year to protect him. They are playing with fire. Who knows, Meredith may become a starter in 2-3 years, but we need a viable player this year.

  2. Hurricane$$

    Apparently, inexperience seems to work well for the Buffalo Bills offensive line. All five linemen are holding their own. Being cheap has nothing to do with it,versatility does. From the offensive coordinator, the running backs, T.O. and the coaches, no one is used to this “NO-Huddle-K-Gun offense. Trent Edwards showed me he can win games, now show me consistancy every week. As an offensive unit, the play selection is just right 50/50 on run and pass. Have some faith, this team has 14 more games to go, you never know what will happen. If they stick together, never mind what the media say or negative, bandwagon fans say, you possibly could end up in the wild card (playoffs). I still believe Marv Levy picked the right coach also (Marv Levy graduated from Harvard, Jauron graduated from Yale; HMM what a coincedence). Since Marcus Buggs taken over at MLB, the defense has become more focused and aggressive, not zone covering, Penn State looking, Tampa 2 confused defense every week. I have feeling Marcus Stroud may get hurt this year, which will bring McCargo off the bench to play. Your young players are stepping up each week, it would not surprise me one bit if more inexperienced players get a chance to play this season.

  3. smarter than you

    The bills defintely should have signed runyan, and i too am convinced it has to do with being cheap. That young offensive line thats so “versatile” is going to be exposed. dont forget they have played against 2 base 4-3 Defenses (N.E. switched after mayo got injured) who dont have strong LB corps to rush, meaning, for the most part, they know who they have to block every down. When they start having to protect against 3-4 schemes that send LB’s thru a different gap every play, your going to see that versatility doesnt cut it. you need experience & its gonna take the guys on that line some time to gain it. Runyan on the other hand has been around the league, has played against some of the best blitzing schemes & defensive lines in the league (eagles, cowboys, giants). he would DEFINTELY be an upgrade

  4. Patrick Moran

    While Runyan is definitely perceived as an upgrade, I begrudginly have to hold some kind of faith that the Bills didnt like the way Runyan looked in his workout.

  5. SABURZFAN

    I think bringing Meredith in was a good idea. He has the possibility to become a good offensive lineman, if he can mature. He was highly touted coming out of college so he can be a big addition to the Bills youth movement.

  6. LifetimeBillsFan

    Just because the doctors say that a guy is able to play after recovering from an injury, it doesn’t mean that the guy is necessarily ready to step into a game and play. That may well be the case with Runyan, who has not only not signed with the Bills, but not been signed by any of the other teams that have shown an interest in him, including the Packers (who are also hurting at OT). It may well be that Runyan needs more time to get himself into good enough shape to be able to start working with a NFL team at this point in the season (when he won’t be able to take reps off like he would in training camp).

    And, it’s not like Meridith is going to start or even be active for the Bills on game days, barring an injury to Scott or Bell. Chambers will be the swing tackle again and step in if an injury should occur. If it is a minor injury, Chambers has shown that he can be a reasonable fill-in on a short-term basis. If a longer term injury were to occur, there would be nothing stopping the Bills from putting the injured player on IR and signing a veteran OT, like Runyan, at that point. In Runyan’s case, that might be the better way to go since it would give him more time for his knee to recover from surgery and for him to get himself into practice-ready shape.

    In the meantime, the Bills have picked up a talented kid in Meridith, that they may be able to mold into a solid player, much in the way that they have developed Peters, Bell and Scott (who also admits that he had an attitude problem in Detroit). If he isn’t willing to “get with the program”, the Bills can dump him after three games. If he does, then they have just picked up a 2nd or 3rd round talent that they may be able to develop into a player who can contribute down-the-road at virtually no cost.

    Would I have liked to have seen the Bills sign the Jon Runyan who was a stalwart for Philly for more than a decade? Sure. But there’s no guarantee that is ready to step on the field and be that player right now-or ever again. And, except for Levi Jones-who reportedly wants more than anyone is willing to offer-the other veteran OTs who are available aren’t really much better than Chambers. on the other hand, if Meridith straightens out his attitude and grows up a bit, the Bills may had just added a bit more talent to their roster, even if it takes a year for him to develop.

  7. Buffalo Bills: “10 Point” Tuesday : Buffalo Sports Daily

    [...] a bombshell.  When the Bills signed Meredith the first thing I did was speak to Milwaukee-Sentinel Packers beat writer Greg Bedard.  He told me, unequivocally that Meredith was not close to being NFL-ready this year.  He may or [...]

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