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    If you’re a University of Louisville fan looking for an NFL team to root for, jump on the Buffalo Bills bandwagon.

    The Bills have three former Cardinals in their starting lineup: center Eric Wood, linebacker Preston Brown and right guard John Miller. Oct. 11 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville felt like an alumni game. Buffalo won 14-13 over the Tennessee Titans, who have former UofL players Harry Douglas and linebacker Deiontrez Mount on their roster.

    Wood, 29, is an elder statesman of UofL’s NFL movement. He’s been with the Bills since he was a first-round draft pick (28th overall) in 2009. Wood was a member of the 2006 Orange Bowl championship squad and played for Bobby Petrino and Steve Kragthorpe. He was reliable - 49 consecutive starts at center. The average NFL career lasts less than four years. After some early injuries – including a broken leg his rookie season – Wood has been a regular starter for the Bills. Wood hasn’t made the Pro Bowl yet but Buffalo coach Rex Ryan has compared him favorably to All-Pro New York Jets center Nick Mangold.

    Wood credits his time at UofL for helping his NFL development. “I learned a lot from two good coaches while I was there,” he said. “A lot of the stuff they taught me I still carry with me today: attention to detail, do everything you can with all your effort.”

    Wood’s biggest NFL regret is not making the playoffs yet (Buffalo hasn’t been there since the 1999 season). Perhaps with a little help from his fellow UofL alums, the Bills (3-2) can reach the postseason.

    Miller is a rookie. The former third-round pick has started every game this season. He understands the value of being a quick study after playing in three different conferences – the Big East, American Athletic Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference – during his college career. He also played for two different coaches in Charlie Strong and Petrino. “During that transition you got to see different players, athletes,” Miller said. “I also had two great offensive line coaches in Chris Klenakis and Dave Borbely.”

    If Miller has a question, he can always turn to the center.“I try to learn from Wood, and pick his brain,” he said. Brown is another UofL alum who has made an immediate impact. The former third-round pick was a starter as a rookie last year. This year already, he has two interceptions – including returning one 43 yards and a touchdown and a forced fumble. After the victory last week, Brown wore a Cardinals tee shirt. “It’s always good to have Louisville guys in your team,” he said. “We’re looking to get more. Keep bringing them in every year.”

    Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Bills Facebook page.

     

    Michael Grant's picture

    About Michael Grant

    Sports reporter in Louisville. Film buff. Capricorn.

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