BBD Staff Writer: Ryan Talbot
The Buffalo Bills’ preseason is over and after numerous injuries, it’s safe to say that Bills fans are ready for the regular season. Before we look ahead to Buffalo’s Week 1 matchup with the Patriots, the team needs to trim its roster from 75 to 53. Buffalo has until 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31 to make their roster moves.
My roster projections below are based only upon the team’s current roster. That said, it’s almost a certainty that the Bills will add a few players that are released from other NFL teams.
Quarterbacks (4): EJ Manuel, Kevin Kolb, Jeff Tuel, Thad Lewis
Until the Bills and Kevin Kolb figure out the severity of his concussion, the team needs to carry four quarterbacks. Lewis beat out Matt Leinart for the last quarterback spot after a strong second half against the Lions.
Running Backs (3): C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Tashard Choice
Choice won Buffalo’s competition to be the team’s third running back. While Choice ran well in the preseason, the team could look at backs that hit the waiver wire.
Fullbacks (1): Frank Summers
The Bills may not carry a fullback, but Summers showed good hands as a receiver. The fullback adds another dimension to the Bills’ offense.
Wide Receivers (6): Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, T.J. Graham, Marquise Goodwin, Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley
The first four names are locks at wide receiver for the Bills and Chris Hogan should feel pretty comfortable about earning a roster spot with the Bills. The sixth wide receiver is down to Marcus Easley and Brad Smith. Easley can play special teams and his 79-yard touchdown reception late in the preseason finale should be enough to win him a roster spot. The Bills will try and place Brandon Kaufman on their practice squad.
Tight Ends (3): Scott Chandler, Lee Smith, Chris Gragg
No changes here. Chandler is the best tight end on the team and Lee Smith is the best blocker. Gragg received more snaps than Dorin Dickerson and the team seems high on Gragg’s athleticism.
Offensive Linemen (8): Cordy Glenn, Colin Brown, Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik, Erik Pears, Antoine Caldwell, Sam Young, Thomas Welch
It seems as though the Bills always suffer a few injuries on their offensive line early in the regular season. It’s happening even earlier than usual this year. Earlier in the week, Chris Hairston was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list and cannot return this season. In the preseason finale against Detroit, Doug Legursky was carted off the field with a knee injury.
Welch is the next man in on the offensive line following Legursky’s injury, but realistically, the team will likely cut Welch for another player that becomes available as teams trim their rosters.
Defensive Linemen (8): Alex Carrington, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Jamie Blatnick, Alan Branch, Jay Ross
It would be a shock if any of the first seven players didn’t make the team. As for the eighth spot, it seems as though Jay Ross did enough to hold off Corbin Bryant and Torell Troup.
Linebackers (6): Manny Lawson, Kiko Alonso, Nigel Bradham, Marcus Dowtin, Arthur Moats, Bryan Scott
The Chris White trade really cleared up the linebacker spot. The six players listed did a nice job in camp and during the preseason. Keith Pough is a dark horse to make the roster, but he has potential.
Cornerbacks (6): Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, Crezdon Butler, Justin Rogers, Nickell Robey
With Stephon Gilmore out for six to eight weeks with a fractured wrist, the team needs as much help as possible at cornerback. Realistically, the Bills will most likely add a cut player or two to the cornerback ranks. Nickell Robey makes the roster for now, but may lose his roster spot after muffing his second punt of the preseason against the Lions.
Safeties (5): Jairus Byrd, Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks
Byrd is back in camp, but the Buffalo Bills could look to trade the talented safety at the deadline if they do not feel confident in signing him to a long-term extension next offseason. For that reason, the team should keep five safeties.
Long Snapper (1): Garrison Sanborn
Only long snapper on the roster. Move along.
Kicker (1): Dustin Hopkins
Hopkins did not miss any field goal attempts in the preseason and will be Buffalo’s kicker for the foreseeable future.
Punter (1): Shawn Powell
Powell is the only punter on the team and he improved as the preseason progressed. The punter has been wildly inconsistent since joining the Bills, but this season he’s the team’s best bet.
Do you think there is a player I missed in my roster projections? Do you want to share your final 53-man roster? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions.