Now that Buffalo Bills training camp is officially under way, the team's playing time and roster battles are clearly on everyone's minds. Questions pertaining to those depth battles were at the forefront of this week's submitted queries for the Buffalo Rumblings Mailbag. Let's answer those questions, shall we?
@BuffRumblings what position has the least amount of depth? Injuries are bound to happen— Wombat (@50Wombat) July 30, 2015
There are a few concern areas - quarterback, the defensive line, and possibly safety - but the big one to my eye is the offensive line.
Let's say that Cyrus Kouandjio wins the starting right tackle job. That would leave the Bills, in effect, with two rookies on the right side of the line. In terms of reserves, Kraig Urbik has several years' worth of starting experience, but beyond him the most seasoned player is Seantrel Henderson, who is a second-year player. If the right side of that line falters, the Bills will be forced to patch things up with more inexperienced players - unless, of course, they add some veteran depth at some point during training camp. Aside from a contract extension for Marcell Dareus, that should be Doug Whaley's highest priority right now.
@BuffRumblings McCoy is the #1RB but thats 70-80% at most. Who carries the other 20-30%. What about split formations using 2 RBs? Goalline?— Josh Forrest (@JDForrest129) July 30, 2015
Don't expect the team to use many dual-back formations. Instead, they'll use fullback Jerome Felton, or an extra tight end (or two) to bolster the blocking for whichever tailback is on the field.
80 percent of snaps is probably ambitious for McCoy; I'd expect him to land in the 65 percent neighborhood. Where it breaks down from there depends on how the depth competition shakes out. Until further notice (i.e. someone beats him out), Fred Jackson is the favorite to land the No. 2 job. He'll be fresher playing a smaller role, and he's still useful on passing downs as both a blocker and a receiver.
Jackson could eat up the entirety of the second role, or a third guy - whether that be Anthony Dixon, Karlos Williams, or Bryce Brown, time will tell - could sneak into the rotation on a regular basis. But for now, McCoy-Jackson seems like it's going to be how the rotation works to start the season.
@BrianGalliford if kujawondo starts at right tackle were does Henderson end up-can he start elsewhere?— Scout (@ScoutTompson) July 30, 2015
In that (likely?) scenario, Henderson would profile as the team's swing tackle. He can play either side of the line. That's not necessarily the best situation for the Bills to be in, relying on a second-year player sliding down the depth chart to back up both tackle spots, but that's where they are - unless, again, they add a veteran tackle sometime between now and the start of the regular season.
Tackle is, in my opinion, the only position Henderson should be playing. It's where he fits best athletically, and where the team needs him most. It's too early in his career to be experimenting with position switches; I have serious doubts that he would fit in well at guard, anyway. All of that is to say: if Henderson isn't one of the team's three best tackles, then he's not one of the team's five best linemen, either.
@BrianGalliford Who sticks at defensive tackle behind Dareus and Williams this season?— Jeremy Pike (@JeremyNPike) July 30, 2015
Jarius Wynn and Alex Carrington both have positional versatility, which will help them earn playing time in a formation-diverse Rex Ryan defense. Wynn is more of an edge player than Carrington is, though both can handle either end or tackle. Stefan Charles has the size to play a little nose guard from time to time, so he seems like a good bet for the roster, as well. Especially considering that Dareus is suspended for Week 1, I would be quite surprised if all three of those players didn't make the final roster - and it wouldn't be surprising to see a guy like Andre Fluellen sneak onto the roster during Dareus' suspension, either.
@BrianGalliford any predictions on a third string / practice squad QB (assuming they only keep 2 active)?— Whiskey Cuse (@Whiskey_cuse) July 30, 2015
Let's just say this: while everyone focuses on the three quarterbacks competing for the starting job, Matt Simms is sitting there at No. 4. We can safely assume that Rex Ryan, at least, considers him a viable No. 3 quarterback, given the amount of time the two have worked together. If the Bills wind up wanting to release one of their top three guys, Simms slides into that third role and the team is likely very comfortable with that.
I don't think the team needs to bother with a practice squad quarterback this year. They'll have enough guys on hand that can run the scout team during game-week prep sessions, and they're probably not going to stumble across a practice squad quarterback that can offer more upside than the players on hand.