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Buffalo Bills 53-man roster projection: End of training camp edition

As the Bills prepare to depart Rochester, this is who’s in and who’s out.

Quarterback (3)

Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel, Cardale Jones

This grouping has been firmly established since day one. Taylor has looked sharp in both preseason games, making defenders do their best impressions of the last time I went ice skating. Manuel has been neither spectacular nor disappointing this preseason, which is just fine for a backup quarterback. Jones continues to show flashes of his outstanding arm talent and pocket presence, but the second game highlighted his weaknesses with footwork and handing off the ball from under center. The team will let him develop from the bench as a rookie.

Running back (4)

LeSean McCoy, Mike Gillislee, Reggie Bush, Jonathan Williams

This list obviously features the major absence of the recently-cut Karlos Williams, but since Williams was already going to be suspended for the start of the season, it doesn’t reflect any changes from previous projections. Bush appears to have a lock on the punt returning job, and the team is already scheming ways to get him the ball in the passing game. Gillislee looked good taking over as the backup to McCoy, but a possible concussion sustained in Saturday’s game may keep him sidelined. The team is experimenting with Williams as their new goalline back.

Fullback (1)

Jerome Felton

So far, Glenn Gronkowski hasn’t managed to distinguish himself over Felton, whose contract isn’t really structured to earn him a release this year anyway. The team experimented with using rookie defensive tackle Justin Zimmer in this position, but that won’t have any bearing on the starting role.

Tight end (3)

Charles Clay, Jim Dray, Chris Gragg

Dray has been nearly invisible during the preseason, but he fits the veteran blocker role that Buffalo’s offense likes to keep on-hand. Gragg has been the most productive member of the remaining tight ends.

Wide receiver (6)

Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Walter Powell, Greg Little, Greg Salas

Goodwin seems to have locked down the number three job at this point. The team likes Salas as a slot option, although a hamstring injury has him sidelined. Powell is the swiss army backup the Bills need, an able kick returner with a surprising skill for adjusting to tough catches and earning yards after the catch. Little has played his way onto the roster at this point, effectively scoring two touchdown catches on Saturday.

Offensive tackle (4)

Cordy Glenn, Jordan Mills, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio

Henderson was activated from the PUP list today, and he’ll be working his way back into form as a swing tackle. Kouandjio looked respectable playing on the left side for the injured Cordy Glenn, and he still has value for the team as a sixth lineman in power run packages.

Interior offensive line (5)

Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Ryan Groy, Fernando Velasco

Groy appears to be the team’s preferred offensive guard fill-in, as the top reserve when Incognito went out with a rib injury. Velasco sticks as the next best true center on the roster.

Defensive line (5)

Kyle Williams, Jerel Worthy, Adolphus Washington, Corbin Bryant, Leger Douzable

Williams and Washington are both locks. Bryant will probably be the primary nose tackle while Dareus is suspended. Worthy and Douzable have both had good moments during preseason games. It’s a group with some good talent, if a bit shallow.

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills
A former second round pick, Jerel Worthy might be resurrecting his career in Buffalo.
Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Edge rusher (4)

Jerry Hughes, Lorenzo Alexander, Bryson Albright, Kroy Biermann

Obviously there’s a question of if Manny Lawson will be available in week one. We’re still waiting to hear if he’ll be suspended for violating the Personal Conduct Policy or not. Alexander has filled in for Lawson so far, and he meshes well with the other members of the front seven. The team seems to be pleased with Albright, an undrafted rookie with impressive size and agility. Biermann will provide depth while Lawson is out, but could be the first player cut after week one.

Linebacker (4)

Preston Brown, Zach Brown, Brandon Spikes, Randell Johnson

Brown and Brown will be Buffalo’s top two this season, and Spikes can be a valuable run defender, assuming he avoids trouble off the field. Johnson hasn’t distinguished himself very much, but his experience with special teams may give him a leg up over Jamari Lattimore or David Hawthorne.

Cornerback (6)

Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Kevon Seymour, Sterling Moore, Corey White

This is an excellent group of cornerbacks, from top to bottom. Seymour has outplayed his draft position all preseason, and will probably be the top reserve (with Robey-Coleman still the primary slot corner). Moore and White both stood out against the Giants.

Safety (5)

Corey Graham, Aaron Williams, Duke Williams, Robert Blanton, Colt Anderson

There will be some tough cuts in this position group. Duke Williams has had a strong couple of preseason games, and put himself back into good graces on the roster. Blanton is the next man up, and Anderson is quickly becoming one of the team’s most trusted special teamers.

Special Teams (3)

Dan Carpenter, Colton Schmidt, Garrison Sanborn

Jordan Gay gets cut here to make room for an extra reserve elsewhere on the roster. He failed to make a case for his abilities as a backup kicker, and Dan Carpenter is practicing kickoffs during the preseason.


Manny Lawson, Shaq Lawson, Marcus Easley, Kolby Listenbee, Marcell Dareus, Reggie Ragland

Whether due to suspension or injury, these players won’t be on the roster on opening day. The Bills will have to make the decision to cut someone once these players are available.

Notable cuts:

Nick O’Leary

Although the tight end had a disappointing set of camp practices, he’s actually turned in a few nice grabs in the preseason games. Still, it’s likely not enough to get him onto the roster for week one.

Blake Annen

Annen’s in the opposite boat, as someone who stood out during practice but hasn’t been able to consistently make plays during games. He’s an athletic option that the Bills would probably like to keep on the practice squad.

Dezmin Lewis

The receiver has faded down the stretch of training camp while Powell and Little continued showing up in games. Right now, he looks destined for another trip to the practice squad.

Jarrett Boykin

He had a great touchdown catch in the first preseason game, but is still mired in third string territory with the team. His chances improve the longer that Salas is recovering from injury.

Justin Zimmer

Despite his athleticism, Zimmer hasn’t really earned an uptick in snaps the way some of Buffalo’s other rookies have. For now he looks destined for the practice squad.

Erik Striker

A bit of a fan favorite, but his lack of size has been noticeable during the preseason games. He simply hasn’t been successful making an impact on run plays, and he hasn’t flashed the same pass rushing technique that earned him college accolades.

Jonathan Meeks

He may be the victim of a numbers crunch at safety, despite having a solid preseason that would ordinarily secure him a roster spot. It seems like a luxury for the Bills to carry six safeties on the roster.

Other thoughts:

The team may not want to keep nine offensive linemen on the roster. Is Groy the first cut from that list, or will the Bills surprise and cut Velasco or Kouandjio instead? The team doesn’t have very many viable defensive linemen or edge rushers on hand for week one, which will be alarming if anyone else gets injured. For what seems like the third year in a row, the team will be making some tough cuts among the wide receivers in training camp. Will they try a strategic IR to keep someone around?