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Bills Beat Blog

By Joe Buscaglia
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Bills 53-man roster projection: 8/29

The preseason has been completed, and the only thing separating the NFL from the start of the regular season is to make final decisions on their 53-man rosters. In Buffalo, there are some tough decisions to be made specifically on the offensive side of the ball, but who will survive?

Keep in mind that it's likely the 53-man roster won't be made up completely of players that Buffalo currently has the rights to. Before the cuts come down, here is a projection of who the Bills might keep:

Quarterback (2)
EJ Manuel, Jeff Tuel
Cuts: Jordan Palmer
- The Bills' quarterback position is nearly one of the worst in the league in terms of depth. Thad Lewis was a disappointment in the summer, Jeff Tuel hasn't taken the next step the Bills were hoping for and Jordan Palmer didn't show the necessary arm strength against backups to prove he was worthy of a roster spot. Even though the Bills might only keep two quarterbacks initially, don't expect only Manuel and Tuel to make up this roster. There has to be an additional move coming, they can't go into the season with their current trio, or in this case, duo.

Running Back (4)
C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Bryce Brown, Anthony Dixon
Cuts: None
- As straight forward as it gets. A talented room that will see a 100-percent rate of return.

Fullback (1)
Frank Summers
Cuts: Evan Rodriguez
- Rodriguez brings much more in the passing game to the Bills, but they are a run-first offense. The better blocker of the two, by far, is Frank Summers. He also has more experience carrying the ball than Rodriguez who is a transformed tight end. While the athleticism of Rodriguez is intriguing, they need a skull-crushing blocker ahead of their running backs and he isn't that. Summers might not be either, but he's more in the mold than Rodriguez.

(UPDATE: Evan Rodriguez has tweeted that he has been released.)

Wide Receiver (7)
Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Mike Williams, Marquise Goodwin, Marcus Easley, Chris Hogan, T.J. Graham
Cuts: Naaman Roosevelt, Caleb Holley
- The subtraction of both Thad Lewis and Jordan Palmer on the roster helps make keeping seven receivers on the roster possible. The five locks of the team, at this point, are Watkins, Woods, Williams, Goodwin and Easley. Hogan has had lapses in concentration, and Graham has stepped it up recently. Hogan is still important to the Bills on special teams and they might not want to give up on Graham yet. Will it stay at seven receivers through next week? That's debateable. Keeping anyone else on the cut list over Graham just doesn't make sense at this point.

Tight End (3)
Scott Chandler, Lee Smith, Chris Gragg
Cuts: Tony Moeaki, Dominique Jones
- The Tony Moeaki experiment ends with a result that was predicted by many. The tight end has struggled with injuries ever since college and the 2014 preseason was no exception. He missed four out of five games with a hamstring injury, and barely even played in the one he appeared in. Even though Gragg hasn't done much to garner a roster spot, his athleticism in year two of his career is more intriguing than a perpetually injured player with past history. It may be time to cut their minimal losses with Moeaki and move on.

(UPDATE: Dominique Jones has tweeted that he has been released.)

Offensive Tackle (3)
Cordy Glenn, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio
Cuts: Chris Hairston

The end is likely near for Chris Hairston. Throughout the summer he has shown to have movement issues against edge defenders and the team's early attempt to move him inside to guard failed as well. The Bills won't cut second-round pick Cyrus Kouandjio despite having a poor training camp, and the emergence of Erik Pears as a swing guard/tackle combination removes their need to keep Hairston around.

Offensive Guard (4)
Erik Pears, Chris Williams, Cyril Richardson, Kraig Urbik
Cuts: Antoine McClain, Jared Wheeler

- This really comes down to Kraig Urbik versus Doug Legursky. While Legursky has more in-game experience at center, Urbik is the bigger and superior player along the entire interior of the offensive line. He has a bigger cap hit, but the Bills can't worry about that now. If Eric Wood goes down with an injury they need someone to step in to help sustain the offensive line. Urbik has the most experience and is the better player.

Center (1)
Eric Wood
Cuts: Doug Legursky

- Legursky is too small and short-limbed for what Doug Marrone wants in an offensive lineman. He was a suitable stop-gap solution, but the Bills have addressed their offensive line in a big way this offseason which has left someone like Urbik on the outside looking in on the top five.

Defensive End (4)
Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson, Jarius Wynn
Cuts: Jacquies Smith, Bryan Johnson

- Although Jacquies Smith put up a good fight during training camp and in spots during the preseason, the Bills might opt to only keep four defensive ends on the roster. Since his return to the team at mandatory minicamp, Lawson has shown he still has some ability at defensive end even though he doesn't fit the new defense all that well. But, the Bills could surprise some and keep Smith around.

Defensive Tackle (5)
Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Corbin Bryant, Stefan Charles, Landon Cohen
Cuts: Ike Igbinosun

- The five best defensive tackles on the roster have been identified and there isn't much mystery around it. Bryant, Charles and Cohen have all had a terrific summer of work and made the Bills' decision to cut Alan Branch an easy one.

**Linebacker (5)
Brandon Spikes, Keith Rivers, Preston Brown, Ty Powell, Randell Johnson
Cuts: Jimmy Gaines, Xavius Boyd

- Of course, Nigel Bradham does not count against the opening week roster due to his one-game suspension. However, the Bills have liked what they've seen from Preston Brown and Ty Powell which has helped them be the main backups. The only player in question here is Randell Johnson, who has extremely athletic skills, but is raw at this point in his career. They could opt to try and sneak him on the practice squad and use the spot elsewhere.

Cornerback (6)
Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Corey Graham, Nickell Robey, Ross Cockrell, Ron Brooks
Cuts: Mario Butler, Bobby Felder, Kamal McIlwain, Sam Miller

- Just as straight forward as the running back position, the top six have clearly been identified and there likely won't be any surprises. Ron Brooks had the most to prove in the offseason, and he did.

Safety (4)
Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks
Cuts: Kenny Ladler, Deon Broomfield

- This could get at least a little tricky due to the injury status of Jonathan Meeks. The severity of his neck injury has not been disclosed at this point in time, and if the Bills so choose, they could opt to put him on an injury list. If that is the case, the Bills could save a roster spot by keeping only three safeties and have Corey Graham serve as a hybrid defensive back.

Kicker (1)
Dan Carpenter
Cuts: None

Punter (2)
Brian Moorman, Jordan Gay
Cuts: None
- This might be the biggest surprise of the roster, but it really shouldn't be. The Nigel Bradham suspension allows the Bills to have flexibility at one position for one week. And like it or not, head coach Doug Marrone wants a kickoff specialist on the roster.
"The last two years we’ve lead the league in kickoff returns against us and I just think you’re playing with fire when you keep doing that. I think you can have a big advantage for a couple of reasons. One, you can take that phase out of the game. Meaning that you’ve got thirty-something spots that you need for special teams, the two coverage teams with kickoff return and punt and a lot of times we have starters on that. If you’re a team that makes a decision to kick it out of the end zone 90 percent of the time, you’re saving a lot of shots, you’re saving a lot of reps. And then you take away the opportunities for the other team."

So with the Bradham suspension, the Bills give Gay a one-week tryout to nail down the job. If it doesn't go well, then they move on. If it does, they have a different decision to make.

Long Snapper (1)
Garrison Sanborn
Cuts: None

**Nigel Bradham does not count against the roster for Week 1 due to his suspension

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

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People : Aaron WilliamsAntoine McClainBobby FelderBrandon SpikesBrian MoormanBryan JohnsonBryce BrownC.J. SpillerCaleb HolleyChris GraggChris HairstonChris HoganChris WilliamsCorbin BryantCorey GrahamCyril RichardsonCyrus KouandjioDan CarpenterDeon BroomfieldDominique JonesDoug LegurskyDuke WilliamsEric WoodErik PearsEvan RodriguezFred JacksonIke IgbinosunJared WheelerJerry HughesJimmy GainesJordan Gay CutsJordan PalmerKamal McIlwainKeith RiversKenny LadlerKraig UrbikKyle WilliamsLandon CohenLee SmithLeodis McKelvinManny LawsonMarcus EasleyMario ButlerMario WilliamsMike WilliamsNaaman RooseveltNigel BradhamNorris SearcyPreston BrownRandell JohnsonRobert WoodsRon BrooksRoss CockrellSam MillerSammy WatkinsScott ChandlerStefan CharlesStephon GilmoreTony Moeaki

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