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Posted: Friday, 26 July 2013 1:36PM

Top 10 Bills training camp sleepers



(WGR 550) -- Each year, a surprise name or two starts to gain some traction throughout training camp and even pushes to make the 53-man roster. With a new head coach and an overhauled roster, the Buffalo Bills could stand to have quite a few training camp sleepers rise up and make the team.

With most new coaching staffs, they like to keep their own types of players and may not have the same loyalty to some of the fringe players from the previous regime. Which players in 2013 might have a chance to make a name for themselves at camp and potentially stick on the 53-man roster?

Here's a list of the top 10, and to be a bit more dramatic, let's do it countdown style:

[Edit: Many are asking where WR Da'Rick Rogers is on this list. Most are expecting him to make the team, which doesn't qualify him as a sleeper]

10) S Mana Silva
- The safety the Bills brought in to join their active roster in 2012, Silva's best chance to make the roster all hinges on Jairus Byrd. If Byrd holds out through the regular season, Silva will battle Jonathan Meeks for the fourth, and likely final, roster spot for the safeties. To this point, Silva has been getting more reps and has not made as many errors as Meeks has.

9) OL Thomas Welch
- Every fan knows a thing or two about Zebrie Sanders, and with his enhanced role in 2012 they now know about Sam Young, too. Well how about another player getting second-team reps at tackle? Thomas Welch got signed to the active roster late in 2012 and has quietly been working with the two's. He has the versatility to be a dependable backup if need be. He'll likely be fighting Young for a roster spot.

8) ILB Keith Pough
- The undrafted free agent, Pough is lean but he showed in college to play with reckless abandon. Special teams will be key for Pough (pronounced 'pew'), and he'll likely have to beat out a favorite of the Gailey regime, Chris White, to make it on the active roster. At the very least, he's got enough game to make him a worthy addition to the practice squad if they can't find a spot on the active roster for him.

7) HB Kendall Gaskins
- Look out, Tashard Choice. The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Gaskins showed enough during the spring workouts to wonder if Choice may be in trouble to be the third running back. There could end up being four running backs on the active roster if the Bills elect to not keep fullback Frank Summers around. That could open up room for both Choice and Gaskins, but the rookie has to keep up the positive momentum from spring.

6) P Brian Stahovich
- Stahovich qualifies as a "sleeper" because he came out of nowhere to earn a contract from an open tryout during rookie mini-camp. His hang time-driven punts put him in a direct and wide open competition with the incumbent Shawn Powell. He certainly has the leg to win the job outright. Remember, Powell was former special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven's pick.

5) TE Mike Caussin
- After a frustrating campaign rehabbing his knee injury from 2011, Caussin is finally ready to make a splash. In spring practices, Caussin made more than a couple of "whoa" plays. He's shown to be a solid target for whatever quarterback is throwing his way. Now, he has to do it when the pads go on. It will be Caussin vs. Dorin Dickerson for a spot.

4) WR Chris Hogan
- With the wide receiver group, everyone talks about Da'Rick Rogers and even some are still on the Marcus Easley bandwagon. People should be paying more attention to '7-11' Hogan. The former Hard Knocks star has been very consistent during the spring practices, and actually outplayed at least one of the receivers considered to be locks for the active roster. He still has practice squad eligibility left, so perhaps that could be his fate. His abilities and deception in, and out of his breaks prove that Hogan's got a good amount of skill.

3) OLB Jamie Blatnick
- As one of the top beneficiaries of Mark Anderson getting the boot earlier this week, Blatnick now can be looked at as one of the top sleepers of training camp in 2013. With three roster spots still open, perhaps the Bills will look to add at least one more outside linebacker to compete. However, if the roster stays as is, Blatnick has a strong chance at cracking the top 53.

2) DL Jay Ross
- Getting first team reps during spring practices, Ross really raised some eyebrows with the amount of trust he had already gained from the new coaching staff. At this point, he's ahead of bubble players Torell Troup, Jarron Gilbert and Corbin Bryant. If Ross continues his strong play, an active roster spot would be likely.

1) CB Nickell Robey
- The diminutive undrafted free agent Robey played his tail off throughout spring, culminating with getting first team reps during the mandatory mini-camp. The cornerback position is in sore need of another player that can make things happen on the field rather than getting burned time and time again. If he can prove he can tackle NFL players with his small frame, and continue to show his playmaking abilities through practice this summer, Robey has the strongest case of any of the sleepers to stick with the Bills this fall.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

All photos courtesy of AP
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