On Monday, the Buffalo Bills released their first depth chart of the 2014 regular season. It contained very few surprises, but as ever, there were some listings that bear discussing. Here's what caught our eye:
For most of the preseason, fans watched curiously as Robert Woods ran with the first- and second-team offenses while losing reps to the likes of Chris Hogan. He ended up playing more than any other Bills receiver this summer as a result, and he's back to being listed as a starting receiver - ahead of even Mike Williams - by the team.
Nigel Bradham is left off of the depth chart for now, as he is on the Reserve/Suspended list for Week 1, and replacing him in the starting lineup is rookie Preston Brown. Also of note: veteran Keith Rivers, the expected strong-side linebacker, is listed on the weak side, with Brown on the strong side. Those positions are fairly interchangeable to the point of meaninglessness, but it might be a hint that Rivers, along with middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, will serve as the team's passing-down linebackers against a very good Chicago Bears passing offense.
Here's one that is absolutely worth monitoring: C.J. Spiller, the listed starting running back, is also listed as the team's primary kick returner ahead of Marquise Goodwin. Spiller, one of the elite return men in college football history, hasn't regularly returned kicks for the Bills since the 2011 season, but he did log one return this preseason - a 42-yarder against Pittsburgh. Kick returns are slowly going the way of the dodo bird, but perhaps the Bills are thinking this is a way to get their best playmaker another few touches per game. It would, of course, open the team up to criticism for exposing their best offensive player to some big hits. We'll see what Sunday brings.
There was some initial confusion after the Bills brought in two punters within a few days last week, but the Bills have cleared that up: Colton Schmidt, claimed on waivers from San Francisco, is listed as the punter (and he'll hold on kicks, too). Jordan Gay, claimed on waivers from Carolina, will serve as the kickoff specialist, and has a one-game tryout to impress in that role before Bradham is eligible to return to the active roster.