With the conclusion of the 2016 preseason schedule, the members of the Buffalo Bills roster trying to secure a spot on the 53-man roster are officially out of time. With the Bills 31-0 loss to the Detroit Lions, the team will now have to make the decision to cut at least 22 players from the roster.
Did any players win a spot on the team, and conversely, did anyone ruin claiming a spot on the roster?
My 53-man roster projection at the conclusion of the preseason:
Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel, Cardale Jones
- An easy decision. Tyrod Taylor is the starter, EJ Manuel is the backup, and Cardale Jones is the stowaway. No surprises here.
Running Back (4)
LeSean McCoy, Reggie Bush, Mike Gillislee, Jonathan Williams
- Another position where the Bills don't have to make any decisions. All four players are firmly on the 53-man roster, and the rookie Jonathan Williams earned it with a strong preseason.
Cuts: James Wilder, Jr., Boom Herron
Jerome Felton, Glenn Gronkowski
- Rex Ryan said it ahead of the game in Detroit, someone will make the roster based on how they perform in the fourth preseason game. That man is Glenn Gronkowski. The undrafted fullback showed up in a big way, and most importantly, impressed the head coach of the team in the process. It might be unconventional to keep two fullbacks on the roster, but Gronkowski's strong last few weeks of the summer. He likely won't be active, and may be the first man cut if they need to make a roster move, but the Bills have been impressed by him. And, he can play some tight end if pressed into duty. If he does get released, he is an immediate addition to the practice squad.
Wide Receiver (5)
Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, Greg Salas, Walt Powell
- Dez Lewis made some plays in the preseason finale, but ultimately, he could be best utilized in a practice squad role in 2016, just as he was to start the 2015 season as well. He didn't do enough in the final preseason game to undo all the poor plays he had through training camp and the first three weeks of the season, but remains a strong bet to come back on the practice squad. Walt Powell wins the fifth wide receiver job over both Lewis and Jarrett Boykin, after clearly outperforming them all summer long
Cuts: Dez Lewis, Jarrett Boykin, Kain Colter
Tight End (3)
Charles Clay, Jim Dray, Nick O'Leary
- Would the Bills only keep two tight ends? Well, no, which is why Nick O'Leary cracks the roster for now. He certainly made a charge with some receptions late in the game and caught the eye of Rex Ryan in the meantime. Before getting injured, Blake Annen didn't do enough to stand out and has likely fallen out of the race to be kept on the 53-man roster. Just because O'Leary is on the team now, that doesn't mean he will be for the start of the regular season. Tight end is a position that they could very well look to on the waiver wire to find someone to fill out their roster, and have to release O'Leary as a result.
Cuts: Blake Annen
Offensive Tackle (4)
Cordy Glenn, Jordan Mills, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio
- Same as last week, the Bills will hang onto Seantrel Henderson even though he's been out of action the entire week due to a medical issue. Cyrus Kouandjio has also done enough during the summer to make the team outright, too. The Bills might try to explore putting Henderson back on the Non-Football Illness List as well, if the offensive tackle had a setback -- which would in turn open up another roster spot for the team. If he's on the active roster, they have to keep him.
Cuts: Chris Martin, Marquis Lucas
Interior Offensive Line (5)
Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Patrick Lewis, Ryan Groy
- The acquisition of Patrick Lewis just before the Bills game against the Lions spelled the end for Fernando Velasco. He started the season at backup center and could not instill enough confidence in the team to let him stay there, as they even started Ryan Groy at center in the preseason finale. Groy was clearly ahead of Velasco, and hangs on as a result -- though Groy is clearly on the bubble as well. I think he'll hang on just for his versatility, but will likely be inactive on game days.
Cuts: Fernando Velasco, Cyril Richardson
Defensive Line (5)
Kyle Williams, Corbin Bryant, Adolphus Washington, Jerel Worthy, Leger Douzable
*Marcell Dareus on Reserve/Suspended List
- After a strong preseason and end to his training camp leading up to the final night, Lavar Edwards couldn't steal a spot during the preseason finale after disappointing head coach Rex Ryan against the Lions. He, along with Leger Douzable were the only two defensive linemen on the bubble heading into the game, but only Douzable sticks on the team for now. Lavar Edwards is certainly a candidate to be on the practice squad to start the season. The Bills had a potential spot open for Lavar Edwards with a strong performance thanks to Marcell Dareus' suspension, but he just couldn't get the job done.
Cuts: Casey Walker, Brandon Deaderick
Rush Linebacker (4)
Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson, Lorenzo Alexander, Lerentee McCray
- Kroy Biermann was entirely unimpressive since joining the Bills, which facilitated the team going out and trading for Lerentee McCray to be their fourth outside linebacker and contributor on special teams. Biermann had a clear path to make the team, but just couldn't perform well enough. Bryson Albright had his moments throughout the summer in both practices and the preseason, but he isn't as good of a special teams player as they would like and is likely a good candidate to hook on with the practice squad.
Cuts: Kroy Biermann, Bryson Albright, Max Valles
Inside Linebacker (4)
Preston Brown, Zach Brown, Brandon Spikes, Ramon Humber
- Despite a solid showing in the preseason finale, Jamari Lattimore hasn't done enough through the rest of the summer to warrant a spot on the roster, and, the Bills just signed Ramon Humber to be the backup weakside linebacker. Randell Johnson, even though he possesses an intriguing skill set and frame, just couldn't get the hang of the defense well enough to stay on the roster this time around.
Cuts: Randell Johnson, Jamari Lattimore
Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Kevon Seymour, Sterling Moore, Corey White
- There aren't any surprises among this list, all six players warrant a spot on the roster with how well they've played during the summer. Mario Butler may be the only surprise cut, only because he made the team last year, but he hasn't really been noticeable during the 2016 training camp and preseason.
Cuts: Mario Butler, Sammy Seamster
Aaron Williams, Corey Graham, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks, Colt Anderson
- The addition of Ramon Humber to the roster means the Bills are likely to only keep five safeties at most. but the injury to Colt Anderson could change the way things go at the safety position. Anderson, an asset on special teams, appears to be a strong bet to make the roster if healthy enough to play. If the injury is a serious one, the Bills might have to consider bringing on Robert Blanton as their fifth safety. If they could keep six safeties, I think they would -- but the roster limitations makes it hard to justify. Really, this came down to Blanton versus Jonathan Meeks, and Meeks gets the edge is because of his performance in the final preseason game, and his overwhelming presence on special teams, too. Those two were tightly contested right to the end, and with a great performance on Thursday, Meeks is in and Blanton is out. Again, this could change if Anderson's injury is anything serious.
Cuts: Robert Blanton
Long Snapper (1)
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