untung99.biz: Buffalo Bills 53man roster projection Who makes the cut as preseason begins

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As the Buffalo Bills closed down their operations Thursday at St. John Fisher University, it marked the end of their training camp and the next phase toward the 2023 season. With their first preseason game Saturday night at home against the Indianapolis Colts, the team now remains in Orchard Park for practice sessions for the rest of the year.

The Bills conducted 12 practices in total at camp, and we learned quite a bit about the shape of some starting competitions, who put themselves in better positions, and what it could mean for cutdown day on Tuesday, Aug. 29.

With camp now complete, here is our pre-preseason, post-camp 53-man roster projection, complete with a 16-man practice squad.

Quarterback (2)

Josh Allen, Kyle Allen

It hasn’t been a particularly strong camp for Kyle Allen, though the reason he ultimately remains ahead of Matt Barkley is for his arm strength, and that Allen can help keep the Bills offense a lot closer to normal should Josh Allen need to miss any time. But Kyle Allen hasn’t run away with the competition just yet. You can’t rule out the Bills possibly looking at the veteran quarterback trade or free agent market as the season gets closer. For now, Allen2 remains.

Released: Matt Barkley

Running back (4)

James Cook, Damien Harris, Latavius Murray, Reggie Gilliam (FB)

Once the Bills lost Nyheim Hines for the season due to injury, the running back room became one of the easiest to predict on the roster. James Cook is the clear-cut starter, and Damien Harris and Latavius Murray will compete for Cook’s rest reps and short-yardage situations. As long as the Bills don’t lose either Harris or Murray to a semi-long injury, that should be the trio heading into the season. Jordan Mims has had some nice reps throughout training camp and seems closer to grabbing a practice squad spot.

Waived: Jordan Mims, Darrynton Evans

Wide receiver (6)

Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Khalil Shakir, Deonte Harty, Trent Sherfield, Justin Shorter

The top five are locked in for the 2023 season, and rookie fifth-round pick Justin Shorter appears to be a pretty safe bet, too. Shorter has excellent potential on special teams and is on a four-year cost-controlled rookie contract. It would be a slight surprise if they cut him after what has been a mostly strong camp. And with Dalton Kincaid factoring into the receiver position a bit, and roster spots needed elsewhere, six receivers on the roster seems like the sweet spot. The true competition at receiver likely will be a fight for three practice squad spots. KeeSean Johnson, Andy Isabella and Tyrell Shavers have all had their moments, while Dezmon Patmon and Isaiah Coulter spent time on the Bills’ practice squad previously. That will be a fun position to track in the preseason for the practice squad.

Released: Andy Isabella
Waived: KeeSean Johnson, Tyrell Shavers, Dezmon Patmon, Isaiah Coulter, Bryan Thompson, Marcell Ateman

Buffalo Bills tight end Dalton Kincaid (86) catches a pass during training camp at St. John Fisher College. (Gregory Fisher / USA Today)

Tight end (3)

Dawson Knox, Dalton Kincaid, Quintin Morris

The Bills have three tight ends they really like in Knox, Kincaid and Morris, and fullback Reggie Gilliam could even moonlight there if they go through multiple injuries. Like at running back, this is an open-and-shut case.

Waived: Joel Wilson, Jace Sternberger

Offensive line (9)

Dion Dawkins, Connor McGovern, Mitch Morse, Ryan Bates, Spencer Brown, O’Cyrus Torrence, David Quessenberry, David Edwards, Ike Boettger

With this group of nine offensive linemen, the Bills have a versatile group with more talent from top to bottom than in 2022. They also have a blend of both developmental youth and experienced veterans. The Bates and Torrence competition at right guard will sort itself out, but both are firmly on the team as Bates is also the likely backup center to Morse. Of the backups, David Edwards seems like a lock. Ike Boettger also appears to be a pretty safe bet to stick, and the team continues to give David Quessenberry time working with the first-team offense when there’s an injury or during offensive install. The offensive tackle depth is not the best, as none of Quessenberry, Brandon Shell or Tommy Doyle have really stood out. Doyle is a tough one because he’s coming off a torn ACL and they like him, but the 2021 fifth-round pick really struggled in his third training camp. Tackle could be something the Bills address ahead of the season.

Released: Brandon Shell, Greg Mancz
Waived: Tommy Doyle, Nick Broeker, Alec Anderson, Ryan Van Demark, Richard Gouraige, Kevin Jarvis

Defensive end (4)

Greg Rousseau, Leonard Floyd, A.J. Epenesa, Boogie Basham

Although the Bills haven’t ruled anything out for star pass rusher Von Miller’s return, he remains on the PUP list. Both the team and player want him to be available down the stretch of the season, and forcing a potentially early return just to have him Week 1 is something the Bills will avoid if all parties aren’t fully comfortable. For now, keeping Miller on PUP to begin the year gives them the flexibility to keep an extra player on the roster and allow Miller the time to ramp up to play without the weekly pressure. In the grand scheme, sitting out four games against the Jets, Raiders, Commanders and Dolphins isn’t going to define their season — especially not after they signed Leonard Floyd this offseason. The slight surprise for this group could be the exclusion of Shaq Lawson, though without having any special teams abilities and with a solid top three of Rousseau, Floyd and Epenesa even without Miller, Lawson could be expendable. Lawson is an instant practice squad addition, however.

Reserve/PUP: Von Miller

Released: Shaq Lawson, Shane Ray
Waived: Kingsley Jonathan, Kameron Cline

Defensive tackle (5)

Ed Oliver, DaQuan Jones, Poona Ford, Jordan Phillips, Tim Settle

The only real question about this group heading into camp was how Tim Settle would perform, but the team has been happy with his performance at training camp. With Phillips back from the PUP list, they’ve got a deep and talented rotation now, and an insurance policy in Settle for Phillips’ vast injury history. Defensive tackle should be one of the strengths of the roster in 2023.

Released: Eli Ankou
Waived: Cortez Broughton, Kendal Vickers, D.J. Dale

Linebacker (6)

Matt Milano, Tyrel Dodson, Terrel Bernard, Dorian Williams, Baylon Spector, Tyler Matakevich

The Bills haven’t made an ultimate decision as to who will start alongside Milano, but some of their practice usage has signaled the players in a good position to make the team. Veteran A.J. Klein has often worked with the third-team defense, allowing the Bills to see what they have in their young players like Dodson, Bernard, Williams and Spector. It could spell trouble for Klein on the 53-man roster, who, like Shaq Lawson, would be an instant practice squad addition for them. Despite being on the PUP list due to a calf injury, Matakevich has been vigorously ramping up along the practice sidelines with the strength and conditioning staff and seems somewhat close to a return. Matakevich is a lock for special teams reasons.

Released: A.J. Klein, Travin Howard

Cornerback (6)

Tre’Davious White, Taron Johnson, Dane Jackson, Christian Benford, Kaiir Elam, Siran Neal

The competition between Jackson, Benford and Elam to be the starting boundary cornerback doesn’t seem any closer to settling than when the Bills first arrived for training camp. Their preseason performances will be paramount to who wins the job, but even the declared winner may be susceptible to in-season competition from the others. For the 53-man roster purposes, all three are likely sticking around, barring any unforeseen trade opportunities. Past this top six, rookie Alex Austin and Ja’Marcus Ingram have yet to do enough to challenge for a roster spot.

Waived: Alex Austin, Ja’Marcus Ingram, Kyron Brown


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Safety (5)

Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Taylor Rapp, Cam Lewis, Damar Hamlin

As things stand, Hamlin appears on track to make the team. However, the lingering question that the Bills likely still need to get the answer to is how comfortable Hamlin will be on game day or how comfortable they’ll feel using him in a special teams-only role. He is at least fourth on the safety depth chart, and may even be fifth behind Cam Lewis. Plus, with Lewis’ special teams importance, and the ability to serve as Taron Johnson’s backup, it might make Lewis the fourth safety over Hamlin by default on game days before factoring in everything else.

Released: Dean Marlowe
Waived: Jared Mayden, Zayne Anderson

Specialists (3)

Tyler Bass (K), Sam Martin (P), Reid Ferguson (LS)

Waived: None

Practice squad (16)

QB Matt Barkley*, RB Jordan Mims, WR Andy Isabella*, WR Tyrell Shavers, TE Joel Wilson, OT Brandon Shell*, OT Tommy Doyle, G Nick Broeker, C/G Alec Anderson, DE Shaq Lawson*, DE Kingsley Jonathan, DT Cortez Broughton, LB A.J. Klein*, CB Alex Austin, CB Ja’Marcus Ingram, S Dean Marlowe*

This is a best-case scenario of a Bills-only practice squad without anyone getting claimed off waivers. It is likely that at least one of these players would head to another team in one way or another and that the Bills would look outside the building to fill out their final spots. Doyle, Broeker, Jonathan or Austin are the most likely to get claimed on waivers based on draft status and league reputation. If Doyle gets claimed, keep an eye on offensive tackle Ryan Van Demark returning to the practice squad.

*Denotes a qualifying veteran by practice squad standards. Teams are only allowed six veterans on their practice squad.

Roster moves key:

Reserve/PUP: A player who begins training camp on the physically unable to perform list can go to the reserve list at final cuts if they are not activated to the roster throughout the summer. They must stay on reserve/PUP for at least four regular-season weeks to start the year.

Waived: A player with three or fewer vested years of experience will be subject to waivers if let go by the team.

Released: A player with four or more vested years of experience is not subject to waivers if let go by the team and will be free to sign anywhere immediately.

(Top photo: Gregory Fisher / USA Today)