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With three preseason games in the books, the Buffalo Bills’ 53-man roster has taken some shape, but Thursday’s finale against the Detroit Lions will firmly solidify things as the Bills head into 2017’s regular season campaign. After a summer of trades and shakeups, here’s a look at where things currently stand in Buffalo.
Locks: Tyrod Taylor, Nathan Peterman – No doubt these two will be at the top of the depth chart come the first week of September. Peterman has caught on quickly and worked his way into the backup role.
I think the throw to Oleary involved higher risk. This ball would just sail out of bounds. Beautiful in its own right damn…Dime pic.twitter.com/JYLNylq8SU
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) August 19, 2017
Taylor has had his usual share of ups and downs, but is poised to begin his third season as Buffalo’s starter.
TT misses the window, DL reading drop really well getting hands up. Clay coming uncovered deep as well. pic.twitter.com/oMwJFaHgav
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 28, 2017
On the bubble: T.J. Yates – At the beginning of the offseason program, Yates was Taylor’s backup with years of experience in the NFL to stand on. However, after a rocky training camp and preseason Yates essentially found himself in Rick Dennison’s doghouse and saw his playing time cut drastically. He’ll be out of Thursday’s game with a concussion, so he won’t get a final shot to prove his worth in game action. The Bills may still be tempted to hold on to three quarterbacks this season, especially with Taylor’s injury, and that should help Yates’s case.
Cuts: Keith Wenning
Locks: LeSean McCoy, Jonathan Williams, Mike Tolbert, Patrick DiMarco – The Bills seem to have struck a nice balance with their running back group this year. Despite losing Mike Gillislee, Williams has stepped up and has performed well as McCoy’s backup so far.
On the bubble: Joe Banyard, Taiwan Jones – This is one of those battles that will most likely be decided by what happens on Thursday night. Both players offer something different on special teams, but Banyard may edge out Jones because he’s made the most of his opportunities carrying the ball this preseason. While Jones’s tackling on special teams has been impressive, he doesn’t offer much in terms of playmaking ability on offense.
Cuts: Jordan Johnson
Locks: Jordan Matthews, Zay Jones, Andre Holmes, and Brandon Tate – It’s crazy to imagine, but Buffalo’s only returning player from this group is Tate. After an offseason filled with drama and players coming in and out, the Bills have finally found at least somewhat of a structure for this unit. While Matthews has yet to suit up in a Bills uniform, he sounds more than confident that he’ll be good to go week 1, a much-needed boost for the offense. Holmes was supposed to be a big part of the offseason when he was brought in, but he hasn’t done anything to justify Buffalo’s signing so far.
On the bubble: Rod Streater, Philly Brown, Brandon Reilly, Daikiel Shorts, Dez Lewis: This group will probably be the one that keeps Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott up into the wee hours of Saturday morning. While each of these guys has shown flashes so far this preseason, each still has some question marks after their name. Reilly and Streater have been pleasant surprises, but Streater is currently battling a toe injury, and his timetable for return is unknown. Lewis and Shorts seem to have the best shot at getting cut, unless the Bills decide they want to keep some of the younger guys at the position.
Cuts: Jeremy Butler
Suspended: Walt Powell (four games)
Locks: Charles Clay, Nick O’Leary, Logan Thomas – This group has been one of Buffalo’s best and most consistent units in the preseason. Dennison has to be happy with the production from Clay and O’Leary, and Thomas continues to be a bonus wild card that has seemingly done enough to solidify a spot on the final roster.
So much to like-Both zone and man beater concepts. NP reads CBs quickly, man posture post snap, quickly gets it to Clay. pic.twitter.com/7FcJe7zmIG
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 28, 2017
Cuts: Wes Saxton, Rory Anderson
Locks: Cordy Glenn, Jordan Mills, Dion Dawkins, Michael Ola – If Glenn’s foot isn’t ready for week 1 against the Jets, this unit will really be tested. Dawkins started at left tackle last week, but the rookie is clearly still developing.
Kickslide smoother by Dawkins on left side, but too much weight on toes. Too easy for Suggs. pic.twitter.com/vvRexPPY3z
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 28, 2017
It really is unfortunate that Seantrel Henderson is suspended.
Cuts: Cameron Jefferson
Suspended: Henderson- Still has five games left to serve, and while he hasn’t distinguished himself as an All-Pro tackle, the Bills will certainly miss him.
Locks: Richie Incognito, Ryan Groy, Eric Wood, John Mille r- Miller could be in jeopardy of losing his starting job, as the coaching staff hasn’t looked upon him too fondly this summer. The rest of the unit is very strong, right down to Groy, who would be a starter on many other NFL teams.
On the bubble: Jordan Mudge, Vlad Ducasse – If the Bills decided to keep another interior linemen, it would probably be Ducasse. Although he didn’t do much to stand out when given the start last week against Baltimore, he’s played under Dennison before and has some versatility. Mudge most likely ends up on the practice squad.
Cuts: Greg Pyke, Zach Voytek
Locks: Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson, Eddie Yarbrough – Each of these guys has looked like a monster coming off the edge in McDermott’s 4-3 defense.
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 30, 2017
Bills fans have to be excited about the prospect of Hughes and Lawson barreling down on opposing quarterbacks. Yarbrough’s been one of the brightest spots this summer, and has done enough to secure a roster spot.
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 12, 2017
On the bubble: Max Valles, Ryan Davis – It looks like it will come down to these two for the fourth spot at this position. If the Bills are going for the best player of the two, then they will choose Davis. If they want to keep their hopes of getting a compensatory pick in next year’s draft, then they’ll stick with Valles on the roster.
Cuts: Ian Seau, Marquavius Lewis
Locks: Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Adolphus Washington, Jerel Worthy, Deandre Coleman – The Bills know what they’re going to get from Williams and Dareus when healthy, but Coleman and Worthy have proven that they can be factors as well, and they have made some nice plays in the backfield this preseason. Washington still has work to do to improve his stock with the team, both on and off the field.
— Cover 1 (@Cover1) August 21, 2017
Cuts: Nigel Williams
Locks: Lorenzo Alexander, Preston Brown, Ramon Humber, Gerald Hodges, Tanner Vallejo, Matt Milano – This picture became a lot clearer after the Bills traded away Reggie Ragland earlier this week. The unit has a solid mix of veterans and younger players that have been strong throughout the preseason. Depth will be tested at this position, though, especially if Vallejo isn’t fully healed by the start of the regular season, or if an injury occurs to one of the starters.
Cuts: Sam Barrington, Abner Logan, Carl Bradford, Jacob Lindsey
Locks: Tre’Davious White, Kevon Seymour, Shareece Wright, Leonard Johnson, E.J. Gaines – Much like the wide receiver group, this unit is almost completely different from 2016. There are still many questions left at this position, however, including who starts opposite of White and who plays in the slot. The battle for the starting position has been tight between Wright, Seymour, and Gaines. Seymour missed last week’s game, so Thursday night will be his final opportunity to play for one of those two positions. Johnson seems to be the favorite for the slot position right now.
On the bubble: Greg Mabin, Brandon Sylve – If the team decides to hold onto a sixth cornerback, then it’ll come down to these two. Mabin has especially impressed this preseason, and his interception against the Eagles stands out.
Sylve has also performed well and will see some extended playing time on Thursday with the rest of the reserves.
Cuts: Marcus Sayles
Locks: Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Shamiel Gary – The Bills don’t have much at this position beyond Hyde and Poyer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the team picked up another player before the start of the regular season.
On the bubble: Trae Elston, Colt Anderson – If Anderson could ever get healthy, he’d easily have a spot on Buffalo’s roster. He’s a strong special teams contributor and can hold his own at safety. Elston is also currently banged up, and the fourth safety spot is still very much up for grabs.
Cuts: B.T. Sanders, Joe Powell, Adrian McDonald
Locks: Stephen Hauschka, Reid Ferguson, Colton Schmidt – This group was already decided when the team cut kicker/punter Austin Rehkow earlier this month. All three guys have performed well throughout the preseason.