Inside The Bills

The reason Dawkins subbed at guard, not Groy

Posted by Chris Brown on October 25, 2017 – 8:59 am

When Richie Incognito had to step out of Sunday’s game after getting his ankle rolled when he got cut by a Bucs defender, there looked like there was a decision to be made as both Ryan Groy and Dion Dawkins looked to the offensive staff to see who would sub in for the Pro Bowl guard. Eventually it was Dawkins, who would go in to play most of the rest of the series for Incognito. But that decision was more a matter of rule following than preference.

Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison knew that Groy was not even an option as a substitute at guard because of where Groy was lined up on the previous play.

“Richie went out, and Ryan’s [Groy] our substitute, but he was an eligible receiver the play before, so he cannot be an ineligible [player] (on the next play),” said Dennison.

Dennison is 100 percent correct. In the NFL rule book under Section 3, Article 2 – Returning to original position, it states the following.


A player who has reported a change in his eligibility status to the Referee is permitted to return to a position indicated by the eligibility status of his number after:

  1. a team time out;
  2. the end of a quarter;
  3. the two-minute warning;
  4. a foul;
  5. a replay challenge;
  6. a touchdown;
  7. a completed kick from scrimmage;
  8. a change of possession; or
  9. if the player has been withdrawn for one legal snap. A player withdrawn for one legal snap may re-enter at a position indicated by the eligibility status of his number, unless he again reports to the Referee that he is assuming a position other than that designated by the eligibility status of his number.

Since none of the above had occurred, Groy was not an option to play guard after lining up as an eligible receiver on the previous play. Fortunately, Dawkins handled the impromptu assignment just fine.

“Dion’s experience and his talent allows him to play different places,” Dennison said. “That’s great for us, the more versatility you have, that’s what we ask our wideouts to do, that’s what we ask our tight ends to do, and certainly that’s the same thing as a lineman. If he understands the scheme, we can put him in there. He was very successful, obviously, that was a big play for us.”

Now after the first play that Dawkins went in at left guard, Groy could’ve gone in at left guard at that point, but the offensive staff elected to leave it alone for the rest of the series until Incognito returned.

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