The regular season is just around the corner and I have been meaning to put out a player specific overview of the preseason. Not much time left so here it goes.
I am going to break this down into winners and losers in each position group and expound on each. If I don't mention a player by name it just means that he has done his job, but has not moved forward or back in my mind.
QB. Winners, EJ and Tuel. Loser, Kolb
I thought that the coaches played this just about right. the injuries at the end of camp were just bad luck, and forced the team to jump through a bunch of hoops. I think Kolb is better than most fans on this site and would have been worth having around, even though EJ won the job out from under him. In the end Kolb is just too fragile and I am afraid he is through. I really liked what Tuel did in camp, and he earned his spot on the team. I don't think he is currently a #2 QB, but considering the options I can see why they are going that way. EJ has really impressed during camp, and flat out won the job of starting QB. I know he will have some rough spots through out the season, but I really like what the future holds with EJ as our QB. Lewis is a must on our PS considering we are going to battle with two rookies.
OL. Winners, Wood and Glenn Losers, Welch, Hairston, Snow, Saunders
Congrats to Wood for signing a contract that made him rich and keeps him in Buffalo for 5 more years. Glenn did not have his name called much and that is good for a lineman, not bad for a second round pick. Thank you Buddy Nix.
I don't know what the deal is with Hairston, but I took that one hard. I feel much better about this unit if his name is where T. Welch's is. I guess it is possible that the team is seeing something in practice that we cant, but from watching the preseason games I did not think Welch earned his spot on the team. It looks like he made it by being the best available option. Swing OT is very high on my upgrade list. Snow and Saunders disappointed big time and both were correctly let go. I like having Asper back on the practice squad and I feel better now as I think he can step up to the 53 man roster in case of an injury. God help us if one of our OT's goes down.
RB. I was happy with what we had here from last year. I like Choice as a #3 RB and thought he would beat out all the young guys. The fact that they are all healthy going into the season makes them all winners. One of the things I hated the most about the last coaching staff was that they did not put CJ and Fred on the field together at the same time much. I really hope that changes this year. With the fast pace offence the Bills will run more plays a game than last year by a considerable amount and with a good chunk of them being run plays there will be enough to keep CJ and Fred busy, but I still hope they are on the field together some where one is a decoy for the other. The more talent we can put on the field the more it spreads out their defense.
FB. Winner, Summers
I was one of many that did not think the Bills would use a FB enough for Summers to make the team. I liked what I saw out of him and being young he should get better. I don't know if he is there yet but if he can turn into a 3rd and short conversion machine it might turn into a huge success as IMO that is one of the things the Bills really struggle with.
TE. Winners, Chandler and Gragg
I guess we will see soon enough if Chandler is really as far along as the team says he is, but the fact that they say he is ready is a major win considering the timing of the injury late last year. I really like Gragg a lot and I think he is one of the many rookies and young guys that made our 53 man roster that really earned it. He still has a long way to go and plenty to learn, but with Chandler being a FA after this year, I am glad we already have a guy on the roster that can start to put something on tape. He is a major upgrade over what the Bills have had in recent history as a #3 TE.
WR. Winners, Woods, Graham, Easely, Goodwin, Hogan. Losers Rodgers and Kaufman
Woods is exactly what he was said to be. NFL ready. He will be a huge part of this offense for years to come. Graham looked sharp from the get go in OTA's Lets face it I don't think many fans thought that he would be a contender for the #2 or #3 WR spot at the end of last year. The fact that he came in impressing fast and early and then not letting things slip throughout camp made him an offseason winner. Easely was just another camp body that the team brought in from years ago. Most had given up on him, but he has earned a spot and his ST play made B. Smith expendable. I will be honest from the day Goodwin was drafted I had him pegged as the #4 or #5 WR making the team because of his future contributions. I did not think he would see the field much this year at WR and 10 catches on the year would have been high expectations for me. Now I see him as someone who will see the field every game. He might not get a lot of catches, but he will see the field and he will make some long catches, or draw some long penalties. Hogan although not spectacular has been steady throughout camp and I think has earned his roster spot forcing the Bills to keep 6 WR's.
Rodgers was given a chance but is just not ready. I think he will be a good WR someday if he will work at it and continue to improve, but I am glad the Bills let him go and kept a more NFL ready WR in his place. Kaufman could be considered a winner. He performed really good in the offseason and I have no doubt that he will make a team in the future. I liked him a lot, but tall and slow is not the direction this team is going, and the lack of ST contribution will make it hard for him.
OK so if you are keeping score that is 15 winners, and 7 losers. One of the things that I have really liked about the team so far this year is the amount of players that have really improved their stock through the offseason. Young guys who came into camp as depth or camp bodies and impressed enough to make the team. Only time will tell if that will turn into more wins than last year, buy I like the direction that we are heading, now if we can just stay healthy.