The Buffalo Bills have until 4 p.m. Saturday to trim their roster down to 53 players, and while first-year general manager Brandon Beane and first-year head coach Sean McDermott face some difficult decisions in pairing the roster down, several players stated their case for a roster spot with a strong performance during Thursday night’s 27-17 win over the Detroit Lions.
S Trae Elston
The release of veteran safety Bacarri Rambo opened the door for Buffalo’s backup safeties to shine, and Trae Elston certainly made a strong showing against Detroit. Elston, in his second season out of the University of Mississippi, spent last year on Cleveland and Tampa Bay’s practice squads, but displayed his penchant for big hits vs. the Lions. Listed at 5-foot-9, Elston was flying around New Era Field, delivering at least four huge hits while recording four solo tackles. On the first play of the second quarter, with Buffalo hanging onto a 10-0 lead, Elston made an astute play. Jared Abbrederis had Detroit poised to get on the scoreboard following a 16-yard reception, but Elston poked the ball free and eventually Joe Powell came up with the recovery. Elston is currently listed fourth on the depth chart at strong safety, but the coaches had to like the effort displayed by Elston.
RB’s Joe Banyard and Jordan Johnson
With LeSean McCoy sitting out the preseason finale, Banyard and Johnson thrived against the Lions. Banyard tallied 68 yards on the ground, including an impressive 40-yard run off left tackle that converted a second-and-19. Later in the drive, Banyard carried three straight times and capped the drive with a one-yard plunge up the middle that capped an 11-play, 74-yard drive and put Buffalo up 20-3. Johnson also left a good impression with the coaching staff, totaling 35 yards with a two-yard touchdown run. On the Bills’ final scoring drive, Johnson rushed seven times for 36 yards, including runs of 13 and 10 yards.
WR Brandon Reilly
Reilly has turned heads this preseason, doing everything from making a toe-dragging touchdown catch vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, to hauling in four passes for 55 yards vs. the Baltimore Ravens. Entering the preseason finale, Reilly led the team in both receptions and receiving yards, and he did nothing to hurt his chances of making the team with another strong showing vs. Detroit. Reilly has made a habit of making the difficult catch this preseason and finished the exhibition slate with 11 catches for 137 yards, averaging 12.6 yards per grab. With Corey “Philly” Brown failing to establish himself, and with Rod Streater still sitting out with a toe injury, Reilly has certainly done enough to be in the conversation for a roster spot.
DE Ian Seau
Seau, an undrafted rookie out of Nevada, has been on the roster bubble all preseason, but demonstrated his playmaking abilities vs. the Lions. Seau was in on two sacks — one on a third-and-12 that stalled Detroit’s opening drive of the second half and one on the final play of the game, when he burst around the right tackle, reached out, brought down quarterback Brad Kaaya, and came up with the fumble. It was an incredibly athletic play that capped a productive night for Seau: two sacks, a forced fumble (and fumble recovery), a tackle for a loss, a quarterback hurry…and one roster spot?