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Buffalo Bills snap count notes: third string running back battle heats up, fight for slot corner

Who is getting the most opportunities to show what they can do?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Bills lost their first preseason game to the Carolina Panthers with the final score being 28-23. Although wins and losses in the preseason don't matter, it’s interesting to see which players on the cusp of making the final roster are getting the most playing time. Here’s a look at every players total offensive and defensive snap counts from the game.

Offense (75 total plays)

G Ike Boettger - 58
G Wyatt Teller- 56
T De’Ondre Wesley -51
C Adam Redmond - 37
QB Josh Allen - 37
WR Robert Foster - 34
RB Keith Ford - 31
T Connor McDermott - 30
WR Ray-Ray McCloud - 24
WR Kaelin Clay - 24
WR Malachi Dupre - 23
T Marshall Newhouse - 22
QB AJ McCarron - 22
RB Marcus Murphy - 21
TE Nick O’Leary - 21
WR Rod Streater - 20
C Russell Bodine - 20
RB Travaris Cadet - 18
WR Jeremy Kerley - 17
TE Jason Croom - 16
WR Austin Proehl - 16
WR Andre Holmes - 16
G Vlad Ducasse - 16
T Jordan Mills - 16
C Ryan Groy - 16
G John Miller - 16
T Dion Dawkins - 16
QB Nathan Peterman - 16
TE Logan Thomas - 15
TE Keith Towbridge - 13
TE Khari Lee - 12
TE Charles Clay - 12
WR Brandon Reilly - 11
RB Zach Olstad - 11
WR Kelvin Benjamin - 10
T Mo Porter - 8
T Gerhard de Beer - 8
FB Patrick DiMarco - 6
RB Chris Ivory - 5
T Josh James - 4

  • LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory are the clear starter and backup but the battle for the third running back spot is split between Travaris Cadet, Marcus Murphy, and Keith Ford. Both Cadet and Murphy had a good game against the Panthers and Ford had a day that finds himself on the outside looking in. Although, Ford received more reps than the other two but that is likely due to the fact that it’s preseason and the coaching staff was looking to see more from him. Cadet likely had a smaller amount of reps because he was serving as the backup to start the game with McCoy out. With Ford given his fare share of chances to make his case to be on the team but it looks to be a two-man race.
  • After the Bills traded for Corey Coleman, that leaves only one or two spots for six other receivers. Robert Foster had the most snaps of all the receivers but he was one of the least impressive of the night. Ray-Ray McCloud made a name for himself and showed off his versatility which will help guys on the bubble, like himself, to make the roster. Malachi Dupre wasn't targeted at all and his chances of making the roster are getting smaller since these preseason performances are so important. Austin Proehl may have taken himself out of contention completely as his struggles from camp has continued on the field. Rod Streater was taking reps with the first-team offense and even caught a touchdown pass before it was called back for an offensive pass interference penalty. Brandon Reilly spent a lot of his time working with the second- and third-team and has one of the better chances to earn the fifth or sixth spot, depending on how many receivers are kept. Andre Holmes red zone presence is one of his most valuable traits and could earn him a roster spot despite Kelvin Benjamin being able to do the same. During the Panthers game, Holmes spent most of his 16 snaps with the first team offense. The race for the final spots will heat up the next two weeks with practices and the two upcoming preseason games.

Defense (61 total plays)

CB Levi Wallace - 36
DT Marquavius Lewis - 31
LB Julian Stanford - 30
CB Lafayette Pitts - 29
LB Xavier Woodson Luster - 27
S Kelcie McCray - 26
S Siran Neal - 25
DT Ricky Hatley - 25
CB Taron Johnson - 24
DE Mat Boesen - 23
LB Keenan Robinson - 22
DE Ryan Russell - 22
DE Terrence Fede - 20
DE Shaq Lawson - 20
DE Mike Love - 19
DT John Hughes - 18
S Dean Marlowe - 17
LB Matt Milano - 17
LB Tremaine Edmunds - 17
CB Vontae Davis - 17
DT Harrison Phillips - 16
S L.J. McCray - 15
DE Eddie Yarbrough - 15
DT Adolphus Washington - 15
CB Breon Borders - 15
LB Tanner Vallejo - 14
LB Ramon Humber - 14
S Jordan Poyer - 14
CB Tre’Davious White - 14
S Micah Hyde - 14
CB Phillip Gaines - 13
S Rafael Bush - 11
LB Deon Lacey - 10
DT Star Lotulelei - 10
DE Jerry Hughes - 10
CB Ryan Carter - 3
LB Lorenzo Alexander - 3

  • Since the 4-3 isn't really the base defense for most teams in the NFL, the nickel corner is an important position to fill. Phillip Gaines, who was signed in the offseason and rookie fourth-round pick Taron Johnson are the two primary guys battling to earn that slot corner role. Johnson played more than Gaines but Gaines played more first-team reps. Other than a touchdown he let up in the second half with decent coverage but a perfect throw, Johnson held his own.
  • With Kyle Williams not playing in the first preseason game, it’s clear that the Bills coaches value Harrison Phillips as the third defensive tackle in rotation more than fellow third-round pick Adolphus Washington. Phillips started the game for Williams rather than Washington and was lined up in the 3-technique. Washington and Phillips have split time in Williams’ absence. Over the first two seasons of Washington’s career, he has been underwhelming. All four of the defensive tackles will be used in some degree over the course of the season but as for now, Phillips is the favorite over Washington.