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BuffalOkie Mondays: Jamie Blatnick Eyes Roster Spot
As the Buffalo Bills enter their second week of training camp, the grind of the preseason regimen has already made itself very apparent in Pittsford, NY. Several injuries, mostly minor, have been among the main storylines surrounding the Bills’ first week of practice.
For shoo-in players like Mario Williams and Stevie Johnson, those injuries are mere bumps in the road that need to be nurtured in preparation for the regular season. However, for players like defensive end Jamie Blatnick, being in peak condition and avoiding injuries is crucial as every snap is another opportunity to set you apart from the rest of the players trying to earn a spot on the final roster.
Blatnick, an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State University, is in his second year in the NFL. The Celina, Texas native spent a portion of the 2012 season on the Denver Broncos’ practice squad, but was undersized for the position they wanted him to play.
While many teams viewed Blatnick as too small to play on the line, but too big to play linebacker, the new staff in Buffalo saw value in Blatnick’s skill set and felt he could bring the kind of versatility that Mike Pettine’s defensive system thrives on, so they brought him in for a tryout. After dropping nearly 25 pounds in preparation for his new role in Buffalo, Blatnick earned an invitation to training camp, drawing rave reviews from Bills’ coaches along the way. New head coach Doug Marrone has brought up Blatnick’s name on multiple occasions when asked what players he’s been impressed with so far.
“I believe my versatility is one of my strongest attributes,” Blatnick said. “In this defense, being able to play multiple positions is critical.”
With veteran DE Mark Anderson being cut by the team last week and Mario Williams being slowed by a nagging foot injury, the opportunity to prove himself is there for the taking, and Blatnick hasn’t wasted it. In addition to providing good versatility on defense, he came to camp in tip-top shape and has shown he can handle the increased pace of practice against Nathaniel Hackett’s new offense. Blatnick credits both of those attributes to his time at Oklahoma State.
At OSU, Blatnick practiced daily against an up-tempo spread offense and saw much of the same on Saturday’s from other Big 12 schools who rolled out similar systems. That experience has proven to be valuable so far with Buffalo.
“I believe there are some aspects of the tempo that I am familiar with from college that definitely made acclamation easier,” Blatnick said.
Blatnick also spent his five years at OSU working under one of the nation’s top strength and conditioning coaches in Rob Glass. This summer, he prepared for training camp by going back to Stillwater and working out in Glass’s grueling program.
“I trained with Coach Glass because I truly believe his program is the best,” Blatnick said. “It’s extremely hard, but I believe I need that in order to achieve my goals. I was definitely in phenomenal shape when I reported for camp.”
While Jamie is listed on the official roster as a defensive end, he has spent his time in Pittsford playing multiple positions on defense, as the coaches continue to utilize his versatility.
“I’m still finding my role and the coaches are giving me a look at several positions,” Blatnick said. “I feel this defense fits my skill set extremely well. I have a lot of freedom to fly around and make plays.”
“In certain packages, my role is the same as it was at OSU, more of a true defensive end. However, we also use more traditional 3-4 schemes that are much different. I feel very comfortable with either.”
With five weeks remaining until the home opener, and several roster cuts along the way, Blatnick knows there is a ton of work left to do and the grind is just now beginning. So how does a young player not let the pressure of training camp get to him? For Blatnick, it’s pretty simple.
“The thing about camp you have to remember is to have fun,” Blatnick said. “You’re playing a game that you love for a living, so enjoy every moment.”