Earlier this summer, we profiled several Buffalo Bills players that were on the roster bubble heading into the 2015 season. After an active offseason where the Bills made numerous additions to the backfield, Bryce Brown was at the top of that list.
16 practices and two preseason games into the 2015 season, Brown has not done much to improve his status, thanks in large part to a hamstring injury. Continued issues with fumbles has led to Brown seemingly falling out of favor with the coaching staff, as he failed to take any reps with the first-team offense despite injuries to Fred Jackson and Boobie Dixon. Brown did lead the Bills with 52 yards rushing and a touchdown during the preseason opener, and had no ball security issues in that game, so while he still has an uphill battle to secure a spot on the roster, Brown's performance against Carolina was a step in the right direction.
What about the rest of the roster-bubble players? Let's highlight a few that have improved their stock, a few that haven't, and a few who, like Brown, are in a bit of a holding pattern.
Despite the offseason banter that Matt Cassel could be cut, it would now be surprising if the veteran quarterback did not make the team. Cassel showed what he brings to the table as a potential starter against Carolina by completing 7-of-8 passes for 45 yards. While most of these attempts were short or intermediate throws, the performance gave fans a glimpse of the type of game manager the team could have with Cassel as the starter. While he isn't flashy, Cassel provides the play and experience of a veteran that the Bills need on the roster as a starter or backup.
Deonte Thompson has had a positive camp to date, and has been singled out in the press by head coach Rex Ryan on multiple occasions. With uneven performances from Chris Hogan and Marquise Goodwin early against Carolina, Thompson had a chance to improve his chances of making the final roster. Despite a second-quarter drop in the end zone, Thompson later atoned for the error by hooking up with EJ Manuel on a beautiful 51-yard touchdown. He then followed that up with a solid showing against Cleveland. While one touchdown against the third string defense does not secure a roster spot, Thompson has shown enough progress that he is a player to monitor over the remainder of the summer.
One could also argue that IK Enemkpali increased his chances of making the team, simply by the fact that he has played more preseason snaps than any other Bills defender since the joining the team. Considering that Enemkpali had a whirlwind week, it was surprising to see him play so early despite no practice time as a member of the Bills. If his playing time is an indication of how Rex Ryan views Enemkpali as a player, he will be in consideration for one of the team's final roster spots. Jarius Wynn is done for the season, improving Enemkpali's chances dramatically.
Early indications were that Boobie Dixon was inching towards securing his roster spot, but a calf injury has derailed that progress. Dixon could be sidelined for another week or more - he's been out since August 5 - and he might not play at all this preseason. The fact that the the rest of the Bills' running backs gunning for his roster spot - Brown, in particular - have also missed time due to injury has kept Dixon's position on the team relatively stable.
Chris Hogan also finds himself in a holding pattern on the roster bubble, as he has had a fairly inconsistent training camp, and also won't appear in the Bills' final two preseason games with knee and ankle injuries. Dropped passes have been a regular practice occurrence for Hogan, and he dropped a first quarter pass from Cassel against Carolina. If the Bills decide to keep six wide receivers, he should be safe, but players like Thompson and undrafted free agent Andre Davis have done what they can to leave Hogan's spot in doubt.
Jonathan Meeks' time with the Bills could be coming to an end, as Bacarri Rambo received playing time well ahead of him against both Carolina and Cleveland. After seeing a few first-team reps very early in camp, Meeks has not made noticeable waves in the safety depth competition, and is in danger of being cut. Rambo, meanwhile, is inching toward solidifying his spot as the fourth safety.
While I do not think Fred Jackson will, or should, be cut, fans saw a glimpse of the future against Carolina with rookie running back Karlos Williams. Jackson is only just returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for multiple weeks. Injuries to Williams and Brown limited their opportunities to make a case for the No. 2 spot at running back, which helps Jackson's cause. But Williams, when he returns to health, may have done enough this preseason to eat into Jackson's already-diminishing workload.
Which other Bills players should be added to these lists?