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Bills release TE Dray, promote TE Christian

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Posted at 3:40 PM, Oct 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 15:40:09-04

The Buffalo Bills have made a roster move to open up the week, and it featured one of the free agent acquisitions from the summer being released from the team.

Veteran tight end Jim Dray, who the Bills signed in mid-March, was cut on Tuesday after only the first four weeks of the season. Dray entered the season as the number two tight end, but recently has taken a back seat to second-year player Nick O'Leary.

Dray, 29, appeared in all four games in 2016, but was held without a catch. He signed with the Bills after spending the previous two seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

With the additional room, the Bills chose to add practice squad tight end Gerald Christian to the 53-man roster. The Bills have a total of three tight ends on the active roster now between Charles Clay, O'Leary, and Christian.

Christian, 25, has yet to appear in a regular season game in the National Football League and was a seventh-round pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 2015. He originally signed with the Bills practice squad on September 7.

Joe B's Take

The move at tight end the Bills elected to make is all about the progress of Nick O'Leary ever since presumed backup Chris Gragg suffered a torn ACL in the preseason. O'Leary was likely on the wrong side of the roster bubble after a mediocre camp, but received a new lease on his roster life heading into the final week of the preseason with the injury.

O'Leary took advantage of the chance, stood out during the Bills' preseason finale against the Detroit Lions, and earned himself one of the last spots on the roster -- but it didn't end there. For the first two weeks of the season, Jim Dray was the clear backup tight end, outsnapping O'Leary 10-to-3, and 11-to-3 over those two games.

Over the week-and-a-half between the game in Week Two and Week Three, O'Leary passed by Dray on the depth chart and continued to take advantage of his opportunity to do so. Against Arizona, O'Leary received 14 snaps on offense to Dray's 5. The disparity grew against New England, with O'Leary being on the field for 27 snaps to Dray's 4.

Just by usage, it was clear O'Leary passed Dray on the depth chart -- and he deserves a lot of credit for doing so. He took advantage of a clear opportunity by stepping up his game, even when things looked bleak at best for the majority of the summer.

Without having a need for the blocking-first Dray any longer, the Bills liked what Gerald Christian did at practice, and he now serves as a more athletic and versatile threat from the tight end position to catch passes if they need him to.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia