Thursday, August 22, 2013
Buffalo Bills on the bubble: Offense
By Mike Rodak
The third preseason game typically serves as the final tune-up for any NFL team's starters. The few dozen players who are locks to make the 53-man roster figure to see action into the third quarter, before taking it easy in the preseason finale.
For those players still battling for roster spots, the extended action for starters leaves them with their last, limited opportunity to make an impression.
The Buffalo Bills play their third preseason game on Saturday against the Washington Redskins. That will lead into a hectic final week of August, with the 75-man cutdown (Aug. 27), preseason finale (Aug. 29) and 53-man cut-down (Aug. 31) rapidly approaching.
Here's a look at three players on offense for the Bills who are squarely on the roster bubble and may need a strong performance Saturday to survive final cuts. On Friday, we'll take a look at three defensive players in the same situation:
The fourth-year receiver led all Bills receivers with 43 snaps in last Friday's preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings. The top four receivers for the Bills are set, but Easley could still earn a joint role on offense and special teams. He did his part on special teams on Friday night, playing 12 snaps in that phase of the game. However, the Bills could still choose to go with Brad Smith (who projects to have a larger role on special teams) or Chris Hogan (who has shown good route running and catching ability), leaving Easley off the roster.
Dickerson is a bit of an enigma, having spent parts of his career as a wide receiver, H-back/fullback and tight end. The Bills' new coaches tried him at wide receiver this offseason, but he approached the staff with concerns about shedding weight to play that position. He later returned to tight end and has been in the mix for a roster spot. Dickerson's best hope for making the squad, though, is his versatility. A strong showing on Saturday could put him in line for a role as a "utility player" on offense.
An undrafted rookie from Richmond, Gaskins is a "tweener." At 238 pounds, he played fullback in college but has taken snaps at running back this preseason. He showed some burst last Friday against Minnesota, gaining 16 yards on just three carries. Similarly, he'll have to make the most of the few carries he'll likely see on Saturday. Gaskins is battling Frank Summers, who is a true blocking fullback, and Zach Brown for the final spot in the Bills' backfield. Getting involved on special teams on Saturday would help Gaskins' case to make the roster.