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:
|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.