The Bills have their deepest roster in years, which means there aren’t likely to be many surprises when the roster is trimmed to 53 players on Sept. 2. Depth roles at positions like WR and LB could easily change over the next few weeks, but the core of the Bills is pretty much set.
Throughout the rest of preseason, RapidReports will take a look at who could make or miss the final cut.
Stock rising: QB Vince Young. He had a slow start to his Bills career but has made strides in recent days. He has looked more comfortable in the pocket at practice and impressed with his running ability in Buffalo’s preseason opener. The backup QB role still appears to be his to lose.
Stock falling: WR Marcus Easley. Easley, a former fourth-round pick, was hoping to resurrect his career after missing each of his first two seasons due to injury. But he’s fallen on the depth chart and hasn’t displayed much explosiveness in his routes. Right now, he needs a major breakthrough performance to have any chance of sticking around.
QB -- In: (3) Ryan Fitzpatrick, Vince Young, Brad Smith. Out: Tyler Thigpen. Analysis: Fitzpatrick is the unquestioned starter at QB and has clearly outperformed the others at his position. Young has had an inconsistent camp but seems to be making progress at the right time. Smith is a gadget QB who will be called upon to run the wildcat on occasion. Thigpen has struggled with his accuracy and will likely be released.
RB -- In: (4) Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, Tashard Choice, Corey McIntyre. Out: Johnny White, Zach Brown. Analysis: Jackson and Spiller form one of the top running back duos in the entire NFL. Choice is a favorite of coach Chan Gailey’s going back to their days together at Georgia Tech. White, a fifth-round pick from a year ago, has done little to stand out, and Brown is simply a camp body.
WR -- In: (6) Stevie Johnson, Donald Jones, David Nelson, Derek Hagan, T.J. Graham, Ruvell Martin. Out: Kamar Aiken, David Clowney, Marcus Easley, Naaman Roosevelt, Derek Session. Analysis: Buffalo’s top five receivers appear to be pretty set at this point with Johnson, Jones, Nelson, Hagan and Graham. Hagan’s had a strong camp to solidify his spot in the top five. The placement of Easley here may surprise some fans, but he hasn’t lived up to the hype at training camp. The Bills like Martin on special teams, and he’s made some plays in the passing game for the reserves.
TE -- In: (2) Scott Chandler, Lee Smith. Out: Kevin Brock, Mike Caussin, Fendi Onobun, Dorin Dickerson. Analysis: Chandler and Smith are the only sure things at TE. Chandler is having a terrific camp and the Bills like Smith as an in-line blocker. Caussin will start the year on the PUP list. This could be a position where the Bills scour the waiver wire for an additional player in September.
OL -- In (9): Cordy Glenn, Andy Levitre, Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik, Erik Pears, Chris Hairston, Chad Rinehart, Colin Brown, Sam Young. Out: Mark Asper, James Carmon, Zebrie Sanders, David Snow, Jake Vermiglio, Keith Williams. Analysis: The Bills have a significant drop-off in talent after their top seven offensive linemen, but it looks like Brown and Young are next in line based on their spots at camp and how unimpressive the rest of the OL reserves have looked so far. The Bills could look to the waiver wire for some help with their depth, but they do like the size that Brown and Young bring to the table.
DL -- In (9): Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Mark Anderson, Shawne Merriman, Spencer Johnson, Dwan Edwards, Chris Kelsay, Kyle Moore. Out: Robert Eddins, Sean Ferguson, Alex Carrington, Jarron Gilbert, Kellen Heard, Torell Troup, Jay Ross. Analysis: Buffalo is extremely deep along the defensive line and its top eight players appear to be pretty much set in stone. There was some thought in the offseason that Johnson or Edwards could go due to their relatively high salaries as reserves, but they’ve had good camps and the Bills could use the depth. It looks like two of Buffalo’s top three picks from the 2010 draft, Carrington and Troup, are on their way out. Moore has been a surprise at camp with his pass-rushing ability.
LB -- In (8): Arthur Moats, Kelvin Sheppard, Nick Barnett, Kirk Morrison, Bryan Scott, Scott McKillop, Tank Carder, Nigel Bradham. Out: Chris White, Danny Batten. Analysis: The Bills have a number of talented, young players at the LB position. This number may be a bit high, but it’s hard to see Carder or Bradham being cut due to their draft status and McKillop could be a standout on special teams.
DB -- In (9): Stephon Gilmore, Aaron Williams, Leodis McKelvin, Terrence McGee, Ron Brooks, Justin Rogers, Jairus Byrd, George Wilson, Da’Norris Searcy. Out: Prince Miller, Cris Hill, Nick Saenz, Nick Sukay, Delano Howell, Isaiah Green. Analysis: It’s believed that the Bills will keep six cornerbacks due to both their depth at the position and the number of spread formations used in the NFL these days. At the moment, the Bills only have three true NFL safeties and are likely to add one via waivers. But for now, it looks like they’ll only keep three from the group that they currently have.
Special teams -- In (3): Brian Moorman, Rian Lindell, Garrison Sanborn. Out: John Potter, Shawn Powell. Analysis: It’s very possible that the Bills will decide to keep Potter as a kickoff specialist -- he’s lived up to the hype this preseason, but right now it doesn’t look like the Bills can afford to keep an additional kicker based on how the rest of the roster shapes up. He could, however, jump ahead of someone like Scott McKillop, Kyle Moore or Ruvell Martin for the final roster spot. Moorman is safe at punter and has outperformed Powell.