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Projecting the Buffalo Bills' final roster, V5.0

In case you're new to Buffalo Rumblings, here's the scoop: because I'm obsessive-compulsive, because I'm a nerd, and because this is what the pre-season is really all about, we have already pored over four Buffalo Bills 53-man roster projections to date.  We looked at one before camp, and one after the first week of camp practices.  We've done the exercise after each pre-season game as well.  This posting is the post-Green Bay posting.

I've got some minor changes to the projection.  If you're interested in previous iterations, check our archives.  All you need to know for this iteration is after the jump - and if you yearn to know more, just ask in the comments section.

We start at 80, and quickly move to 78
The Bills currently have 80 players on the active roster or close to it.  As usual, RB Marshawn Lynch is an exemption, as he'll start the season on the Reserve/Suspended list as he serves a three-game suspension.  WR James Hardy is currently on the PUP List.  Having heard nothing to suggest that he is close to returning to the practice field, we'll keep him on PUP to start the regular season.

First roster cut-down: to 75
As Lynch still counts against the active roster, we need to cut four players to get to the first cut-down limit of 75 players (which will need to officially happen on September 1 - it's coming up pretty quickly).  This shouldn't be a big deal.  The four players cut here: WR Shaine Smith, DT Marcus Smith, LB Ryan Manalac, and CB Cary Harris (yes, our 2009 sixth-round pick).

Second roster cut-down: to 53
The second cut-down will take place on September 5, or one full week from this weekend's pre-season game in Pittsburgh.  Again - it's coming up pretty quick.  The Bills will only need to cut 21 players in this round of cuts, however, as it will be in this time frame that Lynch is added to the Reserve/Suspended list.  The list of cuts in this round - obviously the most critical round - are below in the ultra-important blue box.

QB Matt Baker, RB Bruce Hall, FB Corey McIntyre, WR Felton Huggins, WR C.J. Hawthorne, TE Jonathan Stupar, TE Travis McCall, OT Chris Denman, OT Nick Hennessey, C Brandon Rodd, C Christian Gaddis, DE Ryan Denney, DE Ataefiok Etukeren, DT Derrick Jones, DT Corey Mace, LB Pat Thomas, LB Alvin Bowen, LB Ashlee Palmer, LB Solomon Elimimian, CB Lydell Sargeant, FS Ko Simpson

I'm sure there are a few choices that you disagree with in there.  You can get after me about those in the comments section, but I'll explain a couple of them below.  First, here's the final roster (minus Lynch and Hardy, who are obviously still with the team) in depth chart form:

POS. Starter Backup Reserve
WR2 83 - Lee Evans 11 - Roscoe Parrish
WR3 82 - Josh Reed 17 - Justin Jenkins
LT 68 - Langston Walker 77 - Demetrius Bell
LG 67 - Andy Levitre 73 - Kirk Chambers
C 63 - Geoff Hangartner 66 - Seth McKinney
RG 70 - Eric Wood
RT 60 - Brad Butler 79 - Jonathan Scott
TE 80 - Derek Schouman 86 - Derek Fine 89 - Shawn Nelson
WR1 81 - Terrell Owens 13 - Steve Johnson
QB 5 - Trent Edwards 14 - Ryan Fitzpatrick 10 - Gibran Hamdan
RB 22 - Fred Jackson 33 - Dominic Rhodes 44 - Xavier Omon
LE 90 - Chris Kelsay 93 - Chris Ellis
D1 99 - Marcus Stroud 97 - John McCargo
D3 95 - Kyle Williams 91 - Spencer Johnson
RE 94 - Aaron Schobel 58 - Aaron Maybin 96 - Copeland Bryan
SLB 56 - Keith Ellison 54 - Nic Harris
MLB 51 - Paul Posluszny 53 - Marcus Buggs
WLB 55 - Kawika Mitchell 57 - Jon Corto
CB2 28 - Leodis McKelvin 27 - Reggie Corner 26 - Ashton Youboty
SS 43 - Bryan Scott 37 - George Wilson 21 - John Wendling
FS 20 - Donte Whitner 31 - Jairus Byrd
CB1 24 - Terrence McGee 29 - Drayton Florence 46 - Ellis Lankster
K 9 - Rian Lindell
P 8 - Brian Moorman
LS 69 - Garrison Sanborn

And, quickly, here are the eight guys previously released that I'm working to bring back for the practice squad:

WR C.J. Hawthorne
TE Jonathan Stupar
C Brandon Rodd
DT Derrick Jones
LB Alvin Bowen
LB Ashlee Palmer
CB Lydell Sargeant
CB Cary Harris

Quickly explaining a few key cuts
FB Corey McIntyre: The Bills are giving McIntyre a chance to nail down the third RB role by giving him some touches.  He's looked pretty solid on special teams.  He's got a chance to make the roster thanks to the opportunity afforded him, but Xavier Omon has been much more impressive.  Just don't count McIntyre out.

TE Jonathan Stupar: I have been trying to find a way to keep four tight ends.  Right now, I don't think they can get away with it, simply because they need special teams bodies.  Stupar has been so impressive, however, that I very nearly cut Derek Fine in favor of him.  That still seems a touch unrealistic, but don't be shocked if Stupar steals a few reps from Fine just so the coaches can see what he does with higher units.

C Brandon Rodd: I kept nine offensive linemen.  Given the incredible inconsistency and inexperience, it's hard for me to imagine the team being comfortable with just eight linemen on the roster.  I think they'll keep a ninth lineman, even if said lineman isn't active very often.  I almost made it Rodd.  Given the fact that the Bills have one reserve OT (Bell), one reserve OG (McKinney) and one guy that can play both spots (Chambers), I just took the best player between Rodd and Jonathan Scott.  Right now, it's Scott.

DE Ryan Denney: I had to talk myself into this one a little bit, and generally on an exercise like this one, that leads to me being wrong.  Here's something I can tell you: Dick Jauron and this coaching staff are going to keep the best players on the team.  Aaron Schobel, Chris Kelsay and Aaron Maybin aren't going anywhere, obviously.  Chris Ellis and Copeland Bryan have been among the team's best performers at any position this pre-season.  They're going to have a really hard time finding room for six ends on the final roster, no matter how appealing that may sound to some of us.  I would still term a release of Denney unlikely, but it's far more possible now than when camp started.  If any vet goes, it's Denney.

LB Pat Thomas: The ankle injury that Thomas sustained a couple of weeks ago has now kept him out of two weeks of practices and pre-season games.  I've heard nothing to suggest he's ready to return.  Meanwhile, Buffalo's depth at linebacker is so consistent and run-of-the-mill that the Bills will likely focus on keeping the three most dependable players they can find to back up the three starters (and six linebackers seems extremely likely at this point).  Nic Harris stays.  Jon Corto, at least in my mind, is a lock because of his special teams abilities.  I chose to keep Marcus Buggs over Thomas because, even considering Thomas' "experience" (which isn't overly substantial), Buggs is essentially the same player.

As mentioned at the top, I'm perfectly willing to explain my rationale for each and every "made decision" in this projection.  If you've got a question, fire away.