Will special teams save Smith’s spot?

More so than the competition stewing under center at Bills camp; the gaggle of athletes vying for time at receiver has become one of the most intriguing parts of the preseason for the Bills.

One player at the crux of the battle is incumbent gadget player, Brad Smith. Smith’s role on the team was expected to be reduced this season and restructuring his deal during the dog days of summer indicated that he was well aware of what may be coming down the pipe.

With Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, T.J. Graham and Marquise Goodwin slotted in as Buffalo’s top four wide outs, Smith was looking at the prospect for significantly fewer targets per game before the bags started being packed for St. John Fisher. The emergence of Chris Hogan, hype surrounding Da’Rick Rogers and the performances of Marcus Easley and, to a lesser extent, DeMarco Sampson has thrust Smith into some hot water.

Smith wasn’t going to be a major offensive contributor for the Bills this season. The draft all but guaranteed that the organization was looking for more speed and talent to complement their shiny new rookie quarterback. Even without a defined role on the offensive side of the ball, Smith still remains a quality special teams contributor both as a returner and in coverage.

Of course he has likely been supplanted as a return man too. Considering that, is there still a spot for Smith on the 53-man roster? Or will he be released to ensure a spot for one of the popular youngsters like Hogan or Rogers? Continue reading

Few positions up for grabs as Bills prep for camp

Training camp is just around the corner for the Buffalo Bills and this marks a camp that should provide a whole different look at the upcoming season.

Until this offseason, the past few years have been quite lean for Bills fans. Offseason signings were a bit more prudent and balanced rather than the type that were geared towards making strides in the win column. With so many names already inked into the starting lineup for 2012 (see: Williams, Mario), camp should serve as a tool to dig up quality depth players for the Bills. With depth being one of the main culprits for last year’s collapse; having the ability to dig up quality back-ups could go a long way for Buffalo’s success.

Training camp is a tool used to find sleepers and back-ups. No matter how strong or weak a team is expected to be, your starters are usually set by the time camp is set to open. What is different for the Bills this year is their starters are truly starters.

There is potential for a few starting spots to be taken away from the incumbent starter but, for the most part, the real battles will be for second-team roles.

Cornerback and wide receiver are the two positions with the most competition and the most room for movement. Figuring out who falls where with the linebacking corps will be an interesting competition to follow along with, along with left tackle.

The rest of the positions are going to see more competition for the second unit, with the ultimate goal of finding some diamonds in the rough for the upcoming season.

Thanks to the acquisition of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, the Bills have the ability to keep an extremely talented group of players on the first and second team. Even the third men through on the defensive line are going to be capable of being contributors for the Bills, this is not a bad problem to have.

The interior offensive line and offensive backfield fall under the same umbrella as the defensive line. There are set starters and talented back-ups who will be vying for playing time. I expect that the players the Bills have brought in to compete to provide the Bills with plenty of options as training camp moves along. Continue reading