After two preseason games Bills writer Matt Haring gives his take on who will be suiting up on Opening Day vs. Indianapolis. Don’t agree? Use the same interactive roster builder Matt uses to build your ideal roster. Just enter a player’s name (make sure it’s spelled correctly), press enter and the spreadsheet updates automatically. This is your chance to play GM!
(Note: Works best on PC or Mac and not fullscreen)
QB: Tyrod Taylor, Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel (3)
Chances are the team will carry 3 QB’s into the regular season. Cutting EJ Manuel after a preseason in which he trended upwards shouldn’t be a consideration for the Bills, at this point.
RB: LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, Fred Jackson, Boobie Dixon (4)
Is it risky taking 4 injured running backs on the roster? Absolutely, it is. But none of the four ailments appear serious enough threaten missing regular season time. If, however, injuries begin to linger around it will present the coaching staff with some difficult personnel decisions.
FB: Jerome Felton (1)
Felton has looked like a tremendous lead blocker through 2 exhibition games.
WR: Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, Deonte Thompson, Marquise Goodwin, Marcus Easley (6)
The silver lining of all the injuries at the receiver position is that it has allowed some guys lower on the depth chart to prove themselves with the first team offense. With four players (Watkins, Woods, Harvin, Easley) squarely on the roster, there is one, maybe two, roster spots available for the taking. I side with keeping six on the roster, at this point in time, due to injuries. Deonte Thompson has had a few eye opening days at camp, and has strung together two very nice games in a row. He continues push himself towards the good side of the roster bubble each and every day. The final WR spot goes to Goodwin, who all in all has had a very nice camp. Andre Davis is a player who barely missed the cut here, but could find his way on the 53 man squad with a good game or two to close out the preseason. Chris Hogan, unfortunately, got injured at a very bad time but is still very much in consideration for a roster spot.
TE: Charles Clay, MarQueis Gray, Matthew Mulligan, Chris Gragg (4)
Quite frankly, the depth behind Charles Clay has been extremely underwhelming thus far. Gray should still find himself as the next man up behind Clay. Matthew Mulligan serves as a solid blocking tight end that every team, much to the dismay of their fans, needs. The real battle now becomes Chris Gragg vs Nick O’Leary for the fourth spot, assuming they choose to keep one. O’Leary has failed to make an impact in any way thus far in camp and preseason, while Gragg has arguably had the best camp and preseason of all the tight ends.
OT: Cordy Glenn, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio (3)
All three players have looked very solid. Henderson continues to lead the right tackle race, though Kouandjio has looked good in his time with the second team as a swing tackle.
OG: John Miller, Richie Incognito, Kraig Urbik, Cyril Richardson (4)
Miller and Incognito are the starters, and have looked good in camp. Urbik can serve as a valuable backup at both center and guard, while Richardson will be strictly a guard. Cyril Richardson struggled against the Browns last Thursday, but has looked better than he did last year.
C: Eric Wood (1)
Wood has been a little inconsistent recently, but is still a solid player at the center position.
Rather than traditional positional breakdowns, I prefer to break the front 7 into Edge players, down lineman, and linebackers just because of the hybrid nature of a Rex Ryan defense. Limiting a player to one position doesn’t do it justice. This is just my inner football nerd shining through!
Edge: Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, IK Enemkpali, Red Bryant, Cedric Reed (5)
We know what Williams and Hughes can do rushing the passer and defending the run, but the depth behind them is one of the weaker points on the roster after the loss of Jarius Wynn last week. IK Enemkpali has shown some ability to rush the passer, and UDFA Cedric Reed gets the nod as well. Newly added Red Bryant is a big man playing along the edge and gives the team great support in stopping the run.
DL: Kyle Williams, Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles, Alex Carrington (4)
Hey buddy, you forgot about Marcell Dareus. How could I forget? Dareus will be suspended for the first game and therefor will not count against the 53 man roster, which probably opens up a temporary spot for Alex Carrington. Bryant is the most likely man to start in place of Dareus, through Stef Charles in no slouch himself.
LB: Nigel Bradham, Preston Brown, Manny Lawson, Randell Johnson, AJ Tarpley (5)
Bradham, Brown and Lawson should see the most playing time regardless of the defensive formation, but after that depth is somewhat slim. Johnson has looked very nice so far this preseason, and will serve as Manny Lawson’s backup. Beyond that, there is going to be a nice race between AJ Tarpley, Tony Steward and veteran Quentin Groves for one, potentially two, roster spots. Right now, Tarpley gets the spot due to his ability to play both the WILL and MIKE linebacker positions. However, this is a position to keep an eye on during the last few weeks of preseason play.
CB: Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, Nickell Robey, Mario Butler, Ron Brooks (5)
Leodis McKelvin will more likely than not be starting the season on a reserve list of some sort, whether it be NFI or PUP. Mario Butler and Ron Brooks may benefit from McKelvin’s absence the most, as it will probably land them on the 53 man roster. Brooks always finds himself on the bubble, but always pulls through with nice preseason performances. Mario Butler might be the surprise player of the offseason so far as he continually makes plays day in and day out, and has the highest PFF grade of the bunch at 2.6
S: Aaron Williams, Corey Graham, Duke Williams, Bacarri Rambo (4)
Williams and Graham should be on the field majority of the time, but Duke Williams and Rambo should see a lot of time as well. Duke Williams is a good, athletic, safety in the box while Rambo excels a little more in coverage.
Dan Carpenter, Colton Schmidt, Garrison Sanborn, Marcus Thigpen (4)
Marcus Thigpen sneaks out a roster spot due to his great burst in the return game, especially with Percy Harvin not fully healthy. Also, versatility cannot be underestimated in terms of making a roster this time of year. Thigpen has taken reps at running back during camp and could serve as an emergency plan in case all of the running backs are not healthy in time.