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Buffalo Bills release WR Jeremy Kerley, sign DT Robert Thomas

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This is a last-minute surprise move.

On Saturday afternoon, the day before hosting the Los Angeles Chargers in their home opener, the Buffalo Bills announced that they have released wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, and signed defensive tackle Robert Thomas from their practice squad to the active roster. This move comes out of left field, since Kerley (who caught two of four targets for seven yards in the season opener) wasn’t reported to be disappointing the coaching staff early in the season.

This move is a strong indication that the Bills are preparing to establish a role for rookies Robert Foster and Ray-Ray McCloud. McCloud, who is recovering from a minor knee injury, now can claim slot duties and become the primary punt returner, while Foster has one fewer veteran in the way of his reps. This might be a sign that McCloud is ready for action sooner than we thought.

Kerley’s entire $960,000 salary was guaranteed when he broke the season on the active roster, so the Bills are on the hook for the 29-year-old’s cash.

Thomas had a strong preseason with the New York Giants, notching two sacks, and that helped him find a spot on Buffalo’s practice squad until now. He was a reserve in 15 games with the Giants last year. With the release of Adolphus Washington, the Bills only had three defensive tackles on the roster, and Thomas will bolster that depth. The team loves to rotate defensive linemen, and with Shaq Lawson out this week, they needed an extra body to keep players fresh.