DETROIT (WGR 550) -- On the precipice of the regular season, the Buffalo Bills have but a single sixty-minute contest to endure. Once the final seconds tick off the clock, the roster will be molded in every which way to yield what management believes to be the ideal 53-man roster to bring to their first game against the New York Jets.
There will be plenty of decisions to be made on the 'bubble' players of the roster, and what they do Thursday night could have a great impact on their fates.
Who are some of the people on the bubble, and who might be battling someone else on the roster for one of the final positions with the team in 2012?
With so many different players needing a solid evening, here are five things to watch when the Bills take on the Lions Thursday night.
1) Tyler Thigpen vs. Himself
- You read that right. Thigpen found a new life when the Bills released Vince Young in favor of Tarvaris Jackson because the latter will have all of three days with the playbook before the team has to make a decision on roster cuts. Thigpen has a two-plus year head start on Jackson in terms of knowing the playbook, and he's right back in the consideration for making this roster outright because of it. Is he the desired option at this point? Probably not, considering the Bills have brought in two separate players to try and improve their backup quarterback position. However, if Thigpen shows well against the Lions, the Bills could be inclined to keep him around for the first few weeks -- at least until Jackson learns the playbook in full. It's a big night for Thigpen.
2) Kirk Morrison vs. Scott McKillop
- With the emergence of Arthur Moats as the strongside linebacker, the Bills have been adjusting roles over the past couple of weeks. In the practices leading up to their tilt with Pittsburgh, Kirk Morrison took repetitions as the second team middle linebacker -- away from his normal strongside duties. That left Scott McKillop with no Bills reps (only scout team work) during those practices, and it continued in the two days leading up to the Lions game. Will the Bills go for the veteran leadership of Morrison over the special teams prowess of McKillop? In a game where both players will see a bunch of time, things can go either way.
3) Jarron Gilbert vs. Alex Carrington
- One thing I noticed at practice on Tuesday was the Bills trying to work in Alex Carrington at times with the second-team defense. It's likely going to be a last ditch effort for them to see if he's got any fire in his belly to try and make this roster outright. The Bills already have eight players along the defensive line seemingly locked up: Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Mark Anderson, Chris Kelsay, Spencer Johnson, Dwan Edwards and Kyle Moore. Whether or not they keep a ninth defensive lineman will be greatly affected by what happens at other positions throughout the roster -- namely quarterback. If they do keep the ninth, however, I think it would likely come down to Carrington vs. defensive end Jarron Gilbert. Gilbert has stormed up the depth chart to become the second team defensive end, and is firmly on the bubble of making this roster. If it came down to a decision between these two I believe the edge would go to Gilbert, for his strong training camp as a whole. However, the Bills could very well elect to keep neither and simply go with eight.
4) Tashard Choice vs. Johnny White
- The battle to be the third running back on the roster isn't nearly as talked about as much as other positions, but it may just be one of the tightest battles on the team. The Bills brought Tashard Choice back on a one-year contract to compete for a roster spot, and they also had positive feelings toward their former fifth-round pick Johnny White. As it stands now, Choice has the leg up for a couple of different reasons. First, White has been dealing with an ankle injury and has been limited in what he can do throughout training camp. Secondly, Choice showed a lot of guts and toughness in his runs against the Steelers. However, the Bills understand White's condition and know that he hasn't gotten a lot of chances to shine. That's why it could come down to who has a better night against the Lions.
5) Bubble Brothers: Sam Young, Colin Brown, Dorin Dickerson, Delano Howell
- With all four of the gentlemen listed above, you could make a case as to why you keep any one of them, or why you cut them as well. Sam Young is mentioned as one of the most improved this year as a right tackle, Colin Brown can play all three interior positions, Dorin Dickerson has the ability to create matchup problems, and Delano Howell has emerged as the fourth-best safety on the roster. Out of the four I think Brown may be the safest, but that isn't saying much. Every single player that makes up this list have sixty minutes to show that they deserve to be with the team in 2012. The best performer or two of the four will find his way on the roster. Who it will be is a mystery, but it's one of the things that will hold my attention throughout the evening.