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Buffalo Bills snap counts, preseason 2014: Steelers game update

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Taking a look at the running tally of Bills snap counts through three preseason games. Some interesting trends are emerging.

Justin K. Aller

The Buffalo Bills lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 19-16, in their third of five preseason games on Saturday evening. They'll be back on the practice field at St. John Fisher on Monday evening to begin their final week of training camp.

Until then, we have plenty of time to digest not just the week that was for the Bills matching up against the Steelers, but the preseason thus far as a whole. Let's start with an updated look at the team's preseason snap counts on offense, defense, and special teams.

Offense

Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
EJ Manuel QB 81 10 25 46
Thad Lewis QB 72 32 24 16
Jeff Tuel QB 67 26 15 26
Dennis Dixon QB 2 0 2 0
Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Anthony Dixon RB 61 26 17 18
Bryce Brown RB 60 18 24 18
Fred Jackson RB 45 6 13 26
C.J. Spiller RB 29 5 12 12
Ronnie Wingo RB 18 4 0 14
Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Evan Rodriguez FB 59 13 17 29
Frank Summers FB 45 10 18 17
Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Robert Woods WR 103 33 32 38
Chris Hogan WR 68 21 24 23
T.J. Graham WR 61 25 9 27
Chris Summers WR 52 14 11 27
Mike Williams WR 50 10 17 23
Marcus Easley WR 44 18 14 12
Kevin Elliott WR 43 25 6 12
Tori Gurley WR 38 6 6 26
Sammy Watkins WR 34 10 16 8
Caleb Holley WR 24 9 2 13
Marquise Goodwin WR 12 0 12 0
Naaman Roosevelt WR 3 0 0 3
Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Chris Gragg TE 86 46 18 22
Lee Smith TE 55 14 19 22
Scott Chandler TE 48 0 19 29
Dominique Jones TE 46 16 10 20
Tony Moeaki TE 11 0 11 0
Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Seantrel Henderson OT 120 30 44 46
Erik Pears OT 118 28 44 46
Cyrus Kouandjio OT 106 41 22 43
Chris Hairston OT 78 13 22 43
Edawn Coughman OT 25 25 0 0
Cordy Glenn OT 0 0 0 0
Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Kraig Urbik OG 110 26 34 50
Antoine McClain OG 99 41 20 38
Cyril Richardson OG 93 29 22 42
Chris Williams OG 71 27 44 0
J.J. 'Unga OG 26 13 13 0
Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Doug Legursky C 118 44 24 50
Eric Wood C 80 10 25 45
Macky MacPherson C 69 14 17 38
Jared Wheeler C 2 0 2 0

If you were worried that Manuel wasn't going to play enough this preseason, fear not: he's taken more reps than both of his backups thus far, and took more than Lewis and Tuel combined in Pittsburgh. He has completed 28-of-47 passes (59.6 percent completions) for 263 yards (5.6 yards per attempt) with an interception through three games.

It's slightly interesting that, on a night when Buffalo's first-team offense played the entire first half, Spiller saw only 12 snaps. Especially when compared to Jackson's touch count (13 - seven receptions, six carries).

The Hogan and Woods thing continues, as Hogan works in as the third receiver while Woods, very clearly the fourth guy in the rotation right now, blows everyone else out of the water in terms of preseason reps at his position. It's not hard to see that particular personnel decision becoming a point of frustration in the fan base as the regular season approaches.

Buffalo is taking a good, long look at Chris Summers. He's highly unlikely to make the final roster, but seems like a prime candidate for the practice squad.

Hairston finally saw extended playing time in Pittsburgh, which can't hurt his chances at making the team. The same is true for how awful his counterpart, Kouandjio, was in pass protection. Woof. Congratulations on that job security, Erik Pears.

Legursky taking a start at left guard after not practicing there much bodes well for his chances of making the team. Urbik, meanwhile, was situated fairly comfortably ahead of Richardson in Pittsburgh, but that position obviously remains up for grabs.

Defense

Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Jacquies Smith DE 78 29 29 20
Jarius Wynn DE 67 31 24 12
Manny Lawson DE 60 22 18 20
Ike Igbinosun DE 56 17 30 9
Bryan Johnson DE 48 17 22 9
Jerry Hughes DE 44 10 13 21
Mario Williams DE 43 8 14 21
Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Stefan Charles DT 76 25 36 15
Landon Cohen DT 68 21 31 16
Corbin Bryant DT 68 32 13 23
Damien Jacobs DT 45 13 23 9
Marcell Dareus DT 42 8 13 21
Kyle Williams DT 40 8 13 19
Alan Branch DT 39 14 16 9
Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Preston Brown LB 82 33 20 29
Randell Johnson LB 68 24 25 19
Stevenson Sylvester LB 67 24 25 18
Jimmy Gaines LB 64 24 34 6
Ty Powell LB 63 24 39 0
Brandon Spikes LB 44 8 16 20
Nigel Bradham LB 41 12 14 15
Xavius Boyd LB 28 12 12 4
Keith Rivers LB 28 6 11 11
Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Mario Butler CB 71 31 30 10
Ross Cockrell CB 69 17 27 25
Ron Brooks CB 64 26 20 18
Bobby Felder CB 62 29 22 11
Kamaal McIlwain CB 57 23 17 17
Corey Graham CB 44 8 15 21
Nickell Robey CB 38 10 11 17
Stephon Gilmore CB 37 0 16 21
Michael Carter CB 33 8 25 X X X
Sam Miller CB 14 0 0 14
Leodis McKelvin CB 0 0 0 0
Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Deon Broomfield S 75 11 48 16
Jonathan Meeks S 71 24 47 0
Duke Williams S 68 33 15 20
Da'Norris Searcy S 52 19 12 21
Aaron Williams S 42 8 16 18
Jajuan Harley S 41 11 12 18
Kenny Ladler S 26 12 0 14
Derek Brim S 21 12 0 9

Buffalo's third-team defense didn't play a lot in Pittsburgh, which meant low snap counts for several players fighting for roster spots, including Igbinosun and Branch on the defensive line. The writing may be on the wall for Branch, who has consistently been behind Bryant, Charles, and Cohen on the depth chart this summer, and who has played the fewest snaps at the position.

Unless the Bills are just trying to get snaps in for Brandon Spikes early, regardless of personnel package, it's looking like he might be part of the team's coverage plans as a sub-package linebacker. Which does not bode well for the team's coverages. Spikes has good instincts, but isn't fluid enough in space to avoid being picked on.

Without looking back at the second half again to see if Cockrell played exclusively slot again, it's at least encouraging that he's seeing a lot of work this preseason. He's going to be on the team, and it'd be nice to see him play some on the outside before the regular season starts.

While head coach Doug Marrone was telling reporters that Branch is fighting for a roster spot, he was downplaying Aaron Williams' appearance on the second-team defense. The team wanted Duke Williams to get a start next to Da'Norris Searcy. Also, on the topic of safeties: Deon Broomfield might be emerging as a strong candidate for the practice squad.

Special Teams

Player Pos. Total NYG CAR PIT TB DET
Stevenson Sylvester LB 32 12 8 12
Marcus Easley WR 26 10 10 6
Chris Hogan WR 26 9 10 7
Evan Rodriguez FB 26 8 7 11
Kevin Elliott WR 25 7 7 11
Bryce Brown RB 25 8 6 11
Anthony Dixon RB 24 8 10 6
Duke Williams S 24 10 7 7
Preston Brown LB 23 8 9 6
Ross Cockrell CB 21 6 8 7
Frank Summers FB 20 6 6 8
Jimmy Gaines LB 20 8 4 8
Ty Powell LB 20 10 10 0
T.J. Graham WR 19 7 4 8
Kenny Ladler S 19 8 0 11
Ron Brooks CB 18 7 8 3
Jonathan Meeks S 18 9 9 0
Chris Gragg TE 18 3 4 11
Randell Johnson LB 16 6 4 6

It's an encouraging sign for Gragg that he saw double-digit teams snaps in Pittsburgh. It will be much easier to justify a roster spot for him if he can be useful in that phase. He still ranks behind both fullbacks in that department, however.

The Bills let some younger guys take more teams snaps in Pittsburgh, lowering counts for expected veteran mainstays like Easley, Hogan, Dixon, and Duke Williams.

T.J. Graham has shown fairly well as a punt returner this preseason, and he is still a firm sixth in the pecking order at receiver (or fifth, depending on whether or not Goodwin isn't too dinged up to play). Easley remains a huge hurdle, but Graham is clinging onto hope to make the team despite his inconsistencies.

Lest you worry about the Bills not having room to dress four running backs in a given contest, allow your concerns to be alleviated by the fact that the team continues to take a long look at Bryce Brown on teams. He's actually played more snaps in that phase than Dixon thus far.

What stands out to you, Bills fans?