A few days before 2009 Buffalo Bills training camp got started, we sat down with our Bills roster and our thinking caps and took a pre-camp stab at projecting the team's final roster - even though we were nearly two months out from the regular season.
My, how much things can change in a week.
John DiGiorgio and Justise Hairston have landed on Injured Reserve. There have been some surprising developments on the lower portions of the depth chart that have shaken some of our projections up. Several young players have had an impressive first week of camp, while others have disappointed and fallen off the radar. In short, a week into camp, we're ready to take another look at this thing - if only to see exactly how much has changed.
After the jump, you'll find our roster projection, our practice squad projection, explanations on the last five players to make the roster and the first five we cut, and more. As always, if you've got questions, feel free to ask - and we wouldn't mind seeing some of your predictions as well.
Week 1 roster exemptions
I listed two players here in the first iteration of this exercise. With WR James Hardy on Active PUP and expected to practice sooner rather than later, however, I'm not including him here this time. RB Marshawn Lynch is still very much suspended, however, so he stays here as an early-season roster exemption. The Bills will place Lynch on the Reserve/Suspended list to begin the season; he won't count against the 53-man roster once that's done. Then, when his suspension is over, the Bills will release a player to make roster room for Lynch.
Now that that's out of the way, here's my latest projection - in depth chart form.
|WR2||83 - LEE EVANS||13 - Steve Johnson|
|LT||68 - LANGSTON WALKER||77 - Demetrius Bell|
|LG||67 - ANDY LEVITRE*||73 - Kirk Chambers|
|C||63 - GEOFF HANGARTNER|
|RG||70 - ERIC WOOD*||66 - Seth McKinney|
|RT||60 - BRAD BUTLER||79 - Jonathan Scott|
|TE||80 - DEREK SCHOUMAN||86 - Derek Fine||89 - Shawn Nelson*|
|WR3||82 - JOSH REED||11 - Roscoe Parrish|
|WR1||81 - TERRELL OWENS||84 - James Hardy|
|QB||5 - TRENT EDWARDS||14 - Ryan Fitzpatrick||10 - Gibran Hamdan|
|RB||23 - MARSHAWN LYNCH||22 - Fred Jackson||33 - Dominic Rhodes||42 - Bruce Hall|
|LE||90 - CHRIS KELSAY||92 - Ryan Denney||93 - Chris Ellis|
|1T||99 - MARCUS STROUD||97 - John McCargo|
|3T||95 - KYLE WILLIAMS||91 - Spencer Johnson|
|RE||94 - AARON SCHOBEL||58 - Aaron Maybin*|
|SLB||56 - KEITH ELLISON||54 - Nic Harris*|
|MLB||51 - PAUL POSLUSZNY||59 - Pat Thomas|
|WLB||55 - KAWIKA MITCHELL||50 - Alvin Bowen|
|LCB||24 - TERRENCE McGEE||27 - Reggie Corner||26 - Ashton Youboty|
|SS||43 - BRYAN SCOTT||37 - George Wilson||21 - John Wendling|
|FS||20 - DONTE WHITNER||31 - Jairus Byrd*|
|RCB||28 - LEODIS McKELVIN||29 - Drayton Florence||46 - Ellis Lankster*|
|K||9 - RIAN LINDELL|
|P||8 - BRIAN MOORMAN|
|LS||72 - RYAN NEILL|
Again, there are 54 players on that depth chart. Once Lynch returns, Hall will be released, and if we're lucky, he'll be re-stashed on the practice squad, because he's got some talent. In the meantime, here's what the Hall-less practice squad looks like (yes, one would have to go if/when Hall was demoted):
|TE Jonathan Stupar|
|C Brandon Rodd|
|OT Nick Hennessey*|
|DT David Lindquist*|
|LB Marcus Buggs|
|LB Ashlee Palmer*|
|CB Cary Harris*|
|CB Lydell Sargeant*|
Just like last time, we'll do last five in, last five off.
OT Jonathan Scott. Call me crazy, but I think the Bills would be pretty crazy themselves if they entered the season with eight linemen and two practice squad guys as the entirety of the depth chart. I doubt that'll happen simply because of how much change has gone on. I expect a ninth lineman to stick around, and Scott gets the call because of his natural tackle skills. He wouldn't dress on most weeks, but it's nice to have a young vet practicing with the team, at least.
LB Alvin Bowen. It's quite difficult to figure how how many players will be kept at certain positions this year because of special teams rules. Bowen is the sixth linebacker kept; the Bills will almost assuredly keep that many. Still, with Bowen in heavy competition with Marcus Buggs, Ashlee Palmer and Jon Corto, he's not exactly a lock for a roster spot. Strong pre-season showings will help his cause.
CB Ellis Lankster. I've got the Bills keeping eleven defensive backs. We know they value them, and they've kept 10 in each of the last two seasons, but 11 is an awful lot. In determining these final roster spots, however, the Bills like to take the best players - and, more importantly, guys with potential that can play some special teams. Lankster is precisely that. With each impressive training camp practice, he makes it that much harder for the coaches to release him.
SS John Wendling. There's a reason I pictured rookie S Jairus Byrd at the top of this post. Right now, Byrd holds the keys to figuring out exactly which players the Bills will keep in the secondary. He'll be out most of the next two weeks recovering from sports hernia surgery. If, when he returns, he's so far behind that the coaches might look to deactivate him early in the season until he's ready, don't be shocked if the Bills release Wendling in favor of Ko Simpson, who can play defense while Byrd acclimates to the pro game.
RB Bruce Hall. Even with Lynch's suspension factored in, there's a chance that the Bills stick with just Jackson and Rhodes until the suspension is up - particularly if the suspension is reduced. I don't expect that to happen, however, so Dick Jauron will likely take the conservative route and stash a third running back on the roster, just in case.
TE Jonathan Stupar. He's had an impressive first week of camp, there's no doubt about it. But Stupar isn't going to make the team just because Corey McIntyre doesn't. The Bills are going no-huddle, after all, and with Derek Schouman and Derek Fine on the roster, the blocking niche that so perfectly suits Stupar is pretty well handled. He's got a shot, but he's also at a disadvantage in the numbers game.
DE Copeland Bryan. Buffalo's coaches love this guy. Right now, however, he's hurt, and he's facing long odds simply because he's the sixth end off the bench when Maybin gets in.
LB Marcus Buggs. When John DiGiorgio was lost for the season, Buggs immediately saw some second-team reps at middle linebacker. That's likely to continue. He's a small player, but he's also a very physical player. The team likes that about him. But they're going to keep Pat Thomas, as he has good, old-fashioned NFL experience, and I'm guessing the team will prefer numbers at other positions over a seventh linebacker.
LB Ashlee Palmer. As with every non-starting linebacker right now, Palmer has seen reps with the second and third units. He's quite possibly the most athletic linebacker on the squad. His game needs a lot of polish, however, so while he has an outside shot at making the roster, he's far more likely to land on the practice squad - if another team doesn't claim him for their own roster, that is.
FS Ko Simpson. Explained above. See John Wendling.
As always, your comments are welcome - as are your own predictions.