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Football journey: Thomas Welch

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The NFL has a way of bringing players -- like Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Thomas Welch -- far from home.

Growing up in Deltona, Fla., Welch moved to Tennessee in middle school. He stayed close by for college, attending Vanderbilt, but his NFL journey has taken him to five different teams since he was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2010.

Welch has bounced around from New England to Minnesota, back to New England, to Buffalo (in 2011), to St. Louis, then Philadelphia, before returning to Buffalo last season.

He sat down with ESPN.com this week to discuss his path to the NFL:

Beginnings in football: "I first started playing football in seventh grade, when I moved to Tennessee. I was a quarterback in high school. I hurt my shoulder in my senior year and moved to tight end and defensive end."

Living near Nashville, Tenn.: "I like everything about it. I want to move back there eventually. I love it. There's always something to do. Great food city. Always good music, great bars. It's a great place."

Favorite memory at Brentwood (Tenn.) High School: "I blocked a game-winning extra point against our rival high school (Franklin). That was pretty sweet. Plus we won a state championship my sophomore year."

Choosing Vanderbilt: "I was either going to go to Vanderbilt, Louisville, or Memphis. I decided to go to Vandy because it was close to home. Great school. Great to play in the SEC, play against the best. Worked out for me. I loved it there. I played tight end there. My sophomore year, I moved to offensive tackle. Started a bowl game, which was great."

Influence of coaches: "My high school coach, Ron Crawford, is a great coach. He coaches at a different school now. He's a big influence. Also Les Steckel, who was head coach of the Minnesota Vikings a while back and then the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. His son went to high school with us. He really helped my development and mature as a player. He helped me get to where I am."

Being drafted by Patriots in 2010: "Every place is different, obviously. Bill Belichick is the head guy in New England. He runs the show. It's a very tight ship. Everybody is super accountable about everything they do. All places are like that though. You're accountable. It's your job. You have to execute."

Spending time with Vikings in 2011: "I was there the year everything went wrong that could have went wrong. The stadium collapsed. Coach [Brad Childress] got fired in the middle of the year. The Randy Moss situation. That was crazy."

Settling into Buffalo: "Being here, I like Coach Marrone. He's doing a great job. I think everyone is buying it. Our locker room is extremely tight. That's a big thing you need to win in this league, is to have everybody be close knit."

Influence of Marrone: "[The offensive line] does a drill with him at least every day, which is nice. Because he knows exactly what he's doing. He's been a line coach for years. It's cool to have a head man watching over you, knowing exactly what you need to do to get better. I like it a lot."

Off the field: "I like to cook a lot. My wife is lucky. I enjoy it. It's fun creating different stuff. I'm actually living with [wide receiver] Chris Hogan right now, and he gets to reap the benefits of it. I love cooking risotto. That's probably my favorite."