Projecting the 53-man roster

With the deadline to trim the roster to 75 looming (the Bills already dropped to 76), the remaining roster moves will come quickly once this week’s preseason game has passed.

The primary focus of this year’s camp has centered around the quarterback competition as EJ Manuel attempts to earn the role of starter as a rookie. However, both Manuel and Kevin Kolb are all but guaranteed to be in uniform and on the opening day roster when the Bills open against the Pats.

Positions like receiver, defensive line, corner and linebacker will be far different as the Bills 53-man roster shakes out and I’m hopeful that my projected 53-man roster is close to that of Doug Marrone’s. Continue reading

QB competition closed and then reopened after Friday’s win

Much like in their first preseason triumph, Buffalo’s second and third stringers controlled the games as the Bills rolled to a 20-16 victory over Minnesota at home on Friday.

It was a victory marred with regret as EJ Manuel was forced to go through a minor procedure on his left knee, knocking the rookie out for at least two weeks. Manuel didn’t show any signs of injury during his time against the Vikings, putting together another nice outing and taking another step towards Buffalo’s starting job.

Manuel’s play, like against the Colts, was less about the tangible results and more about his presence on the field, for me. Racking up yards against second and third teamers doesn’t hold as much water for me as the operating efficiency that Manuel has shown on his two long touchdown drives. He appears to have a strong grasp of the offense and manages the game well. Obviously a 225 yard, two touchdown half would yield numbers that indicate Manuel’s play was beyond impressive; but in these shorter cameo’s the substance is less about the final stat line for me.

Kevin Kolb’s numbers serve as a good example of this. He finished the evening with a couple of quality drives which bolstered his box score a bit. However, his play within the first half left plenty to be desired. Manuel’s knee injury will keep Kolb afloat for now, but it seems like a safe bet that the rookie will lock down the top spot on the depth chart. Continue reading

Bills have options despite shortage at receiver

Food for thought: the Bills have four specialists, four wide receivers and four quarterbacks. You might say three quarterbacks and five wide outs depending on your point of view.

Regardless, the Bills enter week one with a very interesting set up in terms of their 53-man roster. Tavaris Jackson, Tyler Thigpen and Brad Smith are all filling a role behind Ryan Fitzpatrick as Buffalo’s signal caller. Meanwhile, only Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, T.J Graham and Donald Jones are the wide outs for Buffalo’s typically spread open attack.

Dorin Dickerson’s versatility may fill the Bills need for receiving depth.

The choice to retain Thigpen was obvious. Jackson, while a fine option to fill the backup role behind Fitzpartick, hasn’t learned the offense yet and would leave the Bills crippled if Fitzpatrick was injured early in the year. In addition, Brad Smith has a wonky groin and seems better suited as a receiver than quarterback.Smith’s groin could potentially keep him out of, or limited, against the Jets. There is still five days until kickoff which allows for plenty of healing time. Regardless if Smith plays or not, there is a better chance he will be contributing as a receiver rather than at QB (outside of wildcat plays).

What might be the best option would be to cut ties with Smith. He hasn’t proven to be worth the investment they made, particularly with so few spots available for gimmick tools (see: kickoff specialist). It might just be in the best interest of the team to retain Thigpen as a third string passer, cut ties with Smith and fill the vacant spot with a proper receiver from a practice squad, waiver wire or free agency.

It seems safe to assume that the Bills will not attempt to go through the season with just four receivers while carrying an equal number of quarterbacks. At some point they will cut ties with a signal caller to free up a roster spot for either a playmaker or some other position of need. In the short term, however, they do have some options. Continue reading

Taking a stab at the Bills 53-man roster

With the Bills set to significantly trim their roster tomorrow, I thought I would take my first run at the 53-man roster. I have a few positions that I had struggled with, but managed to come to a final conclusion. This week’s preseason game and practice reports pointed towards a few of the decisions I went with, although there is always a chance for a surprise veteran to get the gas at this time of the year.

For the first time in a few years, the Bills entered preseason with a roster that was a little more stable that in recent seasons. There were fewer position battles, especially for starting jobs and there was far less attention paid to the contributions of late picks and undrafted free agents. I had a fairly strong sense of what the roster would eventually look like heading into this first round of cuts. Hopefully my picks don’t turn out to be totally foolish. (* indicates rookies) Continue reading

Bills training camp part deux

Heading into the season the Bills offense is as big of a question mark as it was last season. The situation at tackle is a huge question mark and there is no clear cut starter at quarterback.

However, I feel the defense will remain a strong point. Even with the transition to the 3-4 defense. Continue reading

Beast Mode is back

WGR 550 (amongst others) that Marshawn Lynch was back participating at One Bills Drive today. The biggest soap opera the Bills have had to deal with is now over with, unless Lynch is traded. The sad part is, it shouldn’t have been an issue considering the Bills’ RB depth.

Marshawn Lynch was back on the practice field with the Bills today.

After drafting C.J. Spiller, plus the year that Fred Jackson had in 2009, the Bills didn’t seem to need their 2008 first-round pick. So, Lynch stayed away, missed a handful of optional practices until today. He is back to work, but does it really matter? Right now, he is the third best running back on the team. Realistically, he is the only every down back the Bills posses. He was drafted because he is a monster carrying the ball and he can catch out of the backfield. Yet, he was rarely used as a receiving target by the greatest check-down passer the NFL has ever seen.

Either way, I feel that if Lynch can be put in the right situation he can succeed. Fred Jackson has a lot of value right now, why not capitalize on that and trade him? If you can get a fourth round pick for Lynch I bet you could get a third for Jackson, at least. I make this point because a tandem of Lynch and Spiller would be a true thunder and lightning combo for the Bills.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter who is running the ball with a patchwork offensive line.