The Buffalo Bills wrap up their exhibition slate this evening in a game against the Detroit Lions that is 95 percent certain to be excessively boring. Nonetheless, the game will serve as the final audition for several players fighting for jobs at the back end of the 53-man roster. These five non-starters, in particular, have a lot on the line tonight.
QB Tyler Thigpen. If the team decides to keep Thigpen on the active roster for the start of the season, the decision likely will have much less to do with Thigpen's pre-season performance - which has been pretty bad - and more to do with the level of comfort that the staff has with Tarvaris Jackson and his knowledge of the offense. Thigpen will play a ton tonight; let's just say that even a solid performance would help his situation out, particularly in the minds of fans.
RB Johnny White. An ankle injury has caused him to lose some ground to Tashard Choice in the battle for the third running back job. White has practiced all week, however, and the Bills would do well by the second-year pro to give him a lot of work to try to make up some ground. Choice will still run a lot, too, but White has always had a special teams edge in this race.
HB Dorin Dickerson. Signed in May to fill the H-Back role that the team would like to utilize, Dickerson has been given plenty of opportunities to make plays in camp and pre-season games, but hasn't really had a break-through performance yet. In theory, keeping Dickerson makes a lot of sense - particularly if the team likes him on special teams - but a final so-so performance may make it more difficult to keep Dickerson around.
DE Jarron Gilbert. A strong training camp and pre-season play has all but officially locked Kyle Moore in as the team's fourth defensive end, but the team remains very high on Gilbert after their last-second decision to keep him on the edge. Gilbert is sort of in the same boat as Dickerson - keeping him is great in theory, but the performance hasn't quite been there. Like Dickerson, a strong close to the pre-season would go a long way toward securing a roster spot.
SS Delano Howell. Based just on GM Buddy Nix's commentary prior to training camp, it seems like the Bills would love to keep four safeties, but didn't know if one of their young guys would emerge as worthy enough to do so. Howell, an undrafted free agent out of Stanford, has had a strong pre-season, but his play tailed off just a bit last week. He's the front-runner to be the fourth safety at this point, and could lock up a job with a strong game in Detroit.