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Posted: Monday, 19 August 2013 7:53PM

Projecting the 53-man roster: August 19



Pittsford, NY (WGR 550)  -- Whenever there is a new coaching staff, it's always interesting to try and figure out who may or may not be a favorite on the roster and who is in jeopardy of making the team.

Only a couple of days ahead of training camp breaking on Wednesday, the Bills will have to face some major decisions within the coming weeks before the regular season gets underway in September.

Some battles have already been decided but there are others that still await a resolution. Here is a look at how it could all shake out, based on how players have performed throughout training camp and the first two preseason games:

Quarterback (3): EJ Manuel, Kevin Kolb, Jeff Tuel
Cut: None
- With the injury to EJ Manuel, that has all but assured Jeff Tuel's spot on the 53-man roster. That was really the biggest question heading into camp, and the undrafted rookie has played well enough to warrant a spot.

Running Back (3): C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Tashard Choice
Cut: Kendall Gaskins, Zach Brown
- Although showing some flashes during training camp, undrafted rookie Kendall Gaskins just did not do enough to unseat third-string runner Tashard Choice throughout the summer. Choice is also a vocal veteran in the locker room, and that's something Head Coach Doug Marrone may value highly.

Fullback (1): Frank Summers
Cut: Drew Smith
- Drew Smith has gotten some time with the first-team in the past few days, but the compact Frank Summers has outperformed him at the position. At times, Summers uses his body with reckless abandon to fulfill his responsibilities. He isn't a perfect fullback, but he's the best man for the job.

Wide Receiver (6): Stevie Johnson, T.J. Graham, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Chris Hogan, Brad Smith
Cut: Marcus Easley, Brandon Kaufman, Da'Rick Rogers, DeMarco Sampson
- The most compelling decision on the roster will be what the Bills do with their young contingent of wide receivers. The way the roster is shaking out, it seems six may be the magic number of how many receivers to keep on the active roster. To this point, Chris Hogan has outperformed the rest of his bubble receiving brethren on a consistent basis. Da'Rick Rogers is the man with the potential, and if the Bills cut him he will likely be claimed off waivers by another team. However, Rogers has failed to show consistency through practices and it might be a chance for Marrone to set an example for his team with the message of "if you don't bring your A-game at all times, anyone is in jeopardy." Some will argue that the Bills should unload Brad Smith, but once again Marrone seems to value having that sort of veteran presence in his locker room, not to mention his restructured contract and his special teams coverage abilities too.

Tight End (3): Scott Chandler, Lee Smith, Chris Gragg
Cut: Dorin Dickerson, Nick Provo
- All the credit in the world goes to Dorin Dickerson for trying to gut out his injury in the name of self-preservation, but he's got a tough task in front of him in trying to make this roster outright. Scott Chandler seems as though he's ready for the regular season and the Bills have been working Chris Gragg in with the first-team at times. Dickerson's best ally at this point would be an injury to one of the top three.

Offensive Tackle (4): Cordy Glenn, Erik Pears, Thomas Welch, Sam Young
PUP: Chris Hairston
Cut: Zebrie Sanders, Tony Hills
- With Chris Hairston doing little more than he has all of training camp (walking around the track during practices, riding the exercise bike), it looks as though Erik Pears is now a pretty safe bet to make the roster. Thomas Welch has become the third offensive tackle in the room, and Sam Young was one of the last to make it on the roster here.

Guard (3): Kraig Urbik, Colin Brown, Doug Legursky
Cut: Antoine Caldwell, Keith Williams, Zack Chibane
- Although Colin Brown and Doug Legursky have each had their struggles throughout training camp, keeping both gives the Bills the flexibility to not carry a second center on the active roster. Each are dual position interior linemen and can step into the center role in case of injury. Antoine Caldwell has played better as of late, but it may be a bit too far gone at this point.

Center (1): Eric Wood
Cut: David Snow, Ryan Turnley
- Both David Snow and Ryan Turnley have struggled snapping the ball at times during training camp, and the flexibility the guards provide will help the coaching staff make this decision.

Defensive Line (5): Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Alex Carrington, Alan Branch, Jay Ross
Cut: Corbin Bryant, Jarron Gilbert, Torell Troup, Izaan Cross
- The decision on whether to keep five or six defensive linemen came down to carrying a fourth offensive tackle and carrying a fifth safety. With as much uncertainty at both positions as there has been, the Bills may elect to only keep five rotational linemen, pending health through the next two preseason games.

Rush Linebacker (3): Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Jamie Blatnick
Cut: Kourtnei Brown
- Jerry Hughes and Jamie Blatnick have impressed all throughout training camp and the preseason, and look poised to make the 53-man roster. Kourtnei Brown has shown flashes during practices, and may be a solid practice squad candidate.

Inside Linebacker (5): Kiko Alonso, Nigel Bradham, Arthur Moats, Bryan Scott, Chris White
Cut: Brian Smith
- Since switching to inside linebacker, Chris White has forced his way on to the 53-man roster by his excellent play throughout the games as well as his efforts during special teams. There may be some thought to release Bryan Scott, but he is Nigel Bradham's direct backup on the weakside. The other three are middle linebackers.

Strongside Linebacker (2): Manny Lawson, Marcus Dowtin
Cut: Keith Pough
- Marcus Dowtin is a favorite of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. The biggest question is the undrafted Keith Pough and whether or not he has done enough to warrant a roster spot. At this point he may be better suited for a spot on the practice squad.

Cornerback (6): Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, Crezdon Butler, Nickell Robey, Justin Rogers
Cut: T.J. Heath, Kip Edwards, Jumall Rolle
- Cornerback is quite the volatile position at One Bills Drive, and it's also one that has quite a number of injuries so six is a likely number to be kept. Although T.J. Heath has gotten some first-team reps, he hasn't taken full advantage of them and might be on the wrong side of the bubble. Justin Rogers might also get some cut consideration.

Free Safety (3): Jairus Byrd, Da'Norris Searcy, Duke Williams
Cut: Jordan Dangerfield
- Without Jairus Byrd in training camp, the Bills will likely have to carry five safeties, so that means keeping a third free safety. If Byrd were in camp, Da'Norris Searcy could have been in jeopardy with his poor play through practices and the preseason.

Strong Safety (2): Aaron Williams, Jonathan Meeks
Cut: Dominique Ellis
- This position is straight forward. Aaron Williams has been the best safety that's been in attendance at St. John Fisher College and Jonathan Meeks has shown positive signs at times throughout practices.

Special Teams (3): Dustin Hopkins, Shawn Powell, Garrison Sanborn
Cut: None
-All three positions have been decided and it's a Florida State trio.

Practice Squad: Brandon Kaufman, Marcus Easley, Zebrie Sanders, Zack Chibane, Kourtnei Brown, Keith Pough, Kip Edwards
- It's likely that Da'Rick Rogers will get claimed on waivers, so the Bills would probably want to sneak a pair of wide receivers on the practice squad. Marcus Easley and Brandon Kaufman would each be viable candidates. The rest of the squad have shown specific abilities that might lead the Bills to want to try and develop them through practice. It's not likely, however, that the entire practice squad will be made up of players only cut by the Bills.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

All photos courtesy of AP
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