On Monday ahead of practice, Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix alluded to two young defensive ends that he felt have really made a nice push in training camp and through two preseason games.
When pressed as to who those two were, both Nix and head coach Chan Gailey curled in to a ball of secrecy.
"I would rather not name them. We have a bunch of them out there working," said Nix.
"We've got a couple young guys," Gailey coyly said.
So with Merriman out the door and a pair of players that are making some waves, what's the harm in naming them?
I've got a guess as to why neither Nix or Gailey will budge on the matter. But first, let's talk about who the secret squad might consist of:
One is most certainly Kyle Moore, the defensive end the Bills picked up from Detroit's practice squad in November of 2011. He has steadily impressed throughout training camp and has even earned some first team repetitions with the Bills from time to time.
The second one is a bit trickier.
Conventional wisdom would say that Robert Eddins would be the other. Eddins was in training camp with the Bills in 2011 and even made the 53-man roster outright before being put on injured reserve a week later. The Bills eventually came to an injury settlement with Eddins, and he wound up on their practice squad by the end of the season.
However, it wasn't Eddins lining up at defensive end with the second team on Monday. Certainly to the surprise of me, and to the surprise of a few others, it was Jarron Gilbert taking reps at LDE.
Gilbert, a former 2009 third-round pick of the Chicago Bears, started off training camp at defensive tackle and was then moved to defensive end one day because of some injuries.
The Bills liked him so much with the pass rushers, they decided to keep him there.
Three players are likely candidates to be the two young players Nix was referring to, so back to the 'what's the harm' question.
Moore, Eddins and Gilbert all may have practice squad eligibility remaining. With one likely to make the roster outright, the second may be on the bubble to make the team. If that player doesn't make the roster, the Bills likely would not want to tip their hand by publicly announcing who they think has made some strides in camp.
I apologize if I'm about to make your brain hurt, because mine does too after thinking about this for far too long. Get ready for some NFL rules lingo!
Here are the basic stipulations regarding the practice squad:
- Players must not have an accrued season in the NFL, which could be a full year on the Injured Reserve.
- Players must not have been active (or "dressing" for the 45-man roster on game days) for more than eight games in any given season they spent on a 53-man roster.
- Players that served two seasons on a practice squad are only eligible for a third year if the team keeps 53 players on their roster throughout the duration of their time on that practice squad. A season on the practice squad is counted for being on it for merely three games in the first two seasons, and only one for the third.
I swear, that's the easiest I can break it down.
Now let's apply them to the players! Easiest one first:
- 2011 was his rookie year. Active for one game with the Bills, then placed on Injured Reserve on September 14, 2011. Came to an injury settlement with Bills on September 20, 2011. Signed on to Buffalo's practice squad on November 30. Conclusion: Definitely eligible for the practice squad Explanation: Doesn't have an accrued NFL season, and only played on the practice squad for one year. Woo! On to the next.
- Drafted in 2009 by Tampa Bay. Dressed for eight games with Tampa Bay in 2009. Dressed for seven games in 2010. Released by Tampa Bay, and signed on to Detroit's practice squad in 2011. Signed by Buffalo off of the Lions practice squad in November 2011. Dressed in four games with Buffalo. Conclusion: Certainly looking like he has practice squad eligibility remaining. Explanation: Doesn't have a single season that he's been active for at least nine games, despite being in the league for three years. Has spent only one year on a practice squad. Alright, now the difficult one.
- Drafted in 2009 by Chicago. Dressed for four games with Chicago in 2009. Released by Chicago in 2010, and claimed off waivers by the New York Jets. The Jets put him on their practice squad, promoting him to the 53-man roster in October 2010, but didn't dress him for a single game. The Jets released him in November 2010, and signed him back to the practice squad the next day. Released by the Jets on final cutdown day in September 2011, and then signed to the Jets practice squad. He was released from the Jets practice squad in November 2011, and re-signed on to it just ten days later. The Bills claimed Gilbert off the Jets practice squad in December of 2011. He did not dress for a game. Conclusion: I'm not 100-percent sure, but I think he just may have practice squad eligibility left. Explanation: Gilbert does not have a technical accrued season in the NFL, having only dressed for four games in 2009. The tricky part is if he qualifies for a third season of practice squad eligibility. The rule only states that the team that employs him must keep 53-men on their active roster at all times, and it's a rarity that any team in the NFL would not keep their roster at the maximum limit. That said, I deduce from the way the rules are written that Gilbert has another year of eligibility left for the scout team. Please, don't take that to the bank just yet.
With all that said, it's fair to say the Bills don't want the other guy that they love to get some publicity in the case that they cut him and want to bring him back for the practice squad. It's a smart and calculated move if that is their reasoning.
Or maybe I'm just wasting valuable moments of my life because they don't want to slight Sean Ferguson by not naming him. Either way, I hope this helped.
Although I think I need to go lay down. I'm getting dizzy.