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Bills to start former tight end at left tackle

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (Nov. 1, 2006) -- Dick Jauron has a theory why it's taken so long and so many coaches to determine which position best suits Jason Peters, the Buffalo Bills' new starting left tackle.

"It may be the curse of unique talent," the Bills coach said. "Here's a guy that's so big but moves so well. ... I'm certain, all his life, people were saying, 'Wow, imagine the ball in this guy's hands,' or 'Imagine him playing defense.' And you can imagine all those things."

Peters has just about done them all in what is becoming a successful jack-of-all-trades football career.

He went from playing defensive end in high school in his native Texas to tight end in college at Arkansas. He scored his first NFL career touchdown in 2004 as a special teams player, recovering a blocked punt in the end zone, and his second as a tight end on a 1-yard reception last season.

Now comes Peters' latest test. The third-year NFL veteran who, after starting the first seven games at right tackle, will make his first career start on the left side when Buffalo (2-5) hosts Green Bay (3-4).

"I really can't describe it," Peters said. "It's been a long road."

And a winding one at that for the 6-foot-4, 328-pound player who -- perhaps, more inexplicably, because of his size and speed -- went overlooked in the 2004 draft before signing with Buffalo.

"I know when I came in what I could do," said Peters, who spent the first half of his rookie season on Buffalo's practice squad. "I just kept moving up and moving up and now I'm a starter."

Peters' promotion to the offensive line's most high-profile and demanding position comes as part of a major shuffle the Bills announced at the start of their bye last week.

Peters replaces Mike Gandy, who moves to left guard in place of Tutan Reyes. Rookie seventh-round pick Terrance Pennington, meanwhile, takes over at right tackle.

The changes are an attempt to address a leaky line that's had difficulty protecting J.P. Losman, who has been sacked 21 times and also lost five fumbles.

Buffalo's rushing attack is also struggling, averaging 98 yards per game, and has only twice broken the 100-yard plateau this season.

Jauron was cautious not to finger any one player with blame in making the switch.

"They're not alone in this thing, clearly," Jauron said. "But it was an area where we could make changes, so it's an area that we did. We think it will make us stronger."

It starts with Peters, whom the Bills project as their long-term starter at left tackle, a position that's been unsettled since Jonas Jennings left as a free agent following the 2004 season. Buffalo thought so highly of Peters that, in July, the team signed him to a four-year contract extension through 2010.

Peters' first test at his new position won't be an easy one. He will line up across from Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, whose 61 1/2 career sacks rank second on the team.

"It's a challenge and I'm up to it," Peters said. "I don't feel too much pressure."

Gbaja-Biamila said the challenge for him will be adjusting to someone he's never faced or watched on film playing that position.

"It's hard because you don't know how he responds to your rushing style," Gbaja-Biamila said. "You just kind of have to ad-lib or feel him out in the first few snaps of the game. But I'm on my normal side, so I'm hoping I can bring speed and things that he's probably not used to seeing on the other side."

Jauron has confidence in Peters, but is also patient in knowing it'll take the player time to complete the transition.

"I have a lot of faith in Jason," Jauron said. "I'm not saying you'll see the finished product this Sunday. I don't feel like he thinks he's arrived. He wants to be really good, and he's got the tools to be really good.

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