The Buffalo Bills have concluded their practices at St. John Fisher College, packed up, and headed home to Orchard Park. It’s halfway through the preseason, and roster battles are beginning to shake out.
Here is our latest stab at what the initial 53-man roster will look like. Each position is listed alphabetically.
Allen has certainly played well, but I don’t think he’s played well enough where they will jettison McCarron. McCarron’s shoulder injury also complicates matters. They won’t be able to trade him before the season starts with a broken collarbone, so if they release him it will net nothing in return. Peterman has been stellar this preseason and head coach Sean McDermott is high on his long-term potential. The only thing that should change here is adding a fourth QB while McCarron recuperates and then releasing that guy at roster cut down day.
Running back (4)
Taiwan Jones falls off the list so I can keep six wide receivers, and with LeSean McCoy’s legal troubles seemingly behind him, I don’t need to hedge as much. Murphy has shown up on special teams and offense this preseason, easily passing Jones.
Wide receiver (6)
Ray-Ray McCloud III
Lots of intrigue here. Cam Phillips made a push but an injury probably cost him a shot at the main roster. Same with Brandon Reilly. Coleman has a lot of talent but will he have a firm enough grasp of the playbook to be able to play in Week 1? (He should.) I do not think Jones is a lock, but he’s been working exclusively with the first-teamers since his return from injury. McCloud probably did enough in the preseason games to overcome some camp struggles.
Tight end (4)
Jason Croom has shot up the depth chart and while he’s not quite ready to be the everyday tight end with his limited blocking ability, he’s earned a role as the number three tight end. Khari Lee and Logan Thomas have both played very well this preseason and training camp, leaving Nick O’Leary as the odd man out. He hasn’t done anything to lose the job, the other guys have just been better.
Offensive line (8)
Last year, the Bills kept eight offensive linemen plus Seantrel Henderson on the suspended list. They added Conor McDermott later that week and rolled with nine on the active roster for the rest of the season. In order to keep four tight ends, I went with eight offensive linemen this year, however, and it came down to Newhouse and McDermott. I went with experience and versatility over potential.
Defensive tackle (4)
Adolphus Washington has done nothing to separate himself this offseason. With the injury to Kyle Williams keeping him week-to-week, they might keep five early and Washington might keep his spot for a while. Defensive end Terrence Fede would likely be the odd man out if they keep five defensive tackles.
Defensive end (5)
The top four seem locked in; Hughes, Murphy, Lawson, and Yarbrough have all seemingly done enough to keep their spots. Murphy, though oft-injured since coming to Buffalo, has a sizable cap commitment. Fede seems like the odd man out if they need depth at defensive tackle.
The Bills did not have great play from their linebackers this preseason. Despite great play as a rookie, Matt Milano has frequently looked lost, and was even replaced for a few series by Robinson. Stanford makes the roster on special teams, and Alexander will play a lot there, as well. Humber seems like the most likely on the list to be cut, perhaps being replaced by Tanner Vallejo.
None of the depth cornerbacks have separated themselves so Breon Borders or Lafayette Pitts could easily make it over Levi Wallace. This race will probably come down to the fourth preseason game, when they will get extensive playing time.
Like the cornerbacks, the depth safeties have all been roughly the same and it will come down to the final preseason contest. I’ll keep these five for now.
Set in stone after Cory Carter’s ACL injury.
Notable cuts: RB Travaris Cadet, RB Taiwan Jones, WR Austin Proehl, WR Brandon Reilly, WR Rod Streater, WR Robert Foster, WR Cam Phillips, TE Nick O’Leary, TE Keith Towbridge, DT Adolphus Washington, LB Tanner Vallejo, LB Deon Lacey, CB Breon Borders, CB Lafayette Pitts, CB Levi Wallace
Last player in: Terrence Fede
Last player out: Adolphus Washington
You could build a pretty nice practice squad with the receivers, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, and defensive backs I just released.
If you’re going to disagree with a cut in the comments, at least make sure you say who you’d remove instead.