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Friday, August 30, 2013
Predicting the Bills' 53-man roster

By Mike Rodak

The preseason is finally over, and the Buffalo Bills will have to get their roster to the 53-man limit by 6 p.m. ET on Saturday.

With some of those cuts possibly coming as soon as Friday morning, it's time to give my prediction of how the 53-man roster will shake out.

There's just one catch: I'm only projecting 51 of the current 76 players to make the cut. Simply put, there are some positions (running back and cornerback, in particular) where I don't think players on the bubble have done enough to justify a roster spot.

Keeping a few open slots would give the Bills flexibility going into Sunday, when hundreds of players hit the waiver wire and open market. You can bet that general manager Doug Whaley hopes he can find some players who are upgrades over what he's looking at today.

Here we go:

QUARTERBACK (3)
In: EJ Manuel, Jeff Tuel, Thad Lewis
Out: Matt Leinart, (Kevin Kolb)
Quick take: Wouldn't be surprised if the Bills reach an injury settlement with Kolb, or place him on injured reserve. Lewis looked stronger than Leinart in the preseason finale and could stick, at least initially. But they could be in the market for a veteran backup here.

RUNNING BACK (3)
In: C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson, Tashard Choice
Out: Zach Brown, Kendall Gaskins, Drew Smith
Quick take: Considered keeping Brown for his special-teams contributions, but Choice has done enough to separate himself from the younger competition.

FULLBACK (0)
In: None
Out: Frank Summers
Quick take: Tempting to keep Summers as a blocking fullback, but can he really crack the 46-man game-day roster? Not anticipating the Bills' offense using a fullback more than a few plays per game.

WIDE RECEIVER (6)
In: Steve Johnson, Robert Woods, T.J. Graham, Marquise Goodwin, Chris Hogan, Brad Smith
Out: Marcus Easley, Brandon Kaufman
Quick take: Don't think Easley has done enough over the final two preseason games to warrant a roster spot.

TIGHT END (3)
In: Scott Chandler, Lee Smith, Chris Gragg
Out: Dorin Dickerson, Nick Provo
Quick take: Not a whole lot of suspense here. Would be a surprise if Dickerson makes it after a quiet preseason.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
In: Cordy Glenn, Colin Brown, Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik, Erik Pears, Thomas Welch, Sam Young, Antoine Caldwell
Out: David Snow, Zebrie Sanders, Zack Chibane, (Doug Legursky)
Quick take: At first glance, looks like Legursky's injury could be serious. For this projection, considering it season-ending. The Bills could replace his experience by keeping Caldwell.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
In: Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Alex Carrington, Alan Branch, Jay Ross, Corbin Bryant
Out: Jarron Gilbert, Torell Troup, Izaan Cross
Quick take: Little bit of a jumbled picture after the starting group. Wouldn't be surprised if they keep an extra body here, even if he is inactive on game day. Going with Bryant over Gilbert or Troup.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (5)
In: Mario Williams, Manny Lawson, Jerry Hughes, Marcus Dowtin, Jamie Blatnick
Out: Jamaal Westerman, Kourtnei Brown, Keith Pough
Quick take: Hughes' strong preseason has solidified this group. A good mix of talent.

INSIDE LINEBACKER (4)
In: Kiko Alonso, Nigel Bradham, Arthur Moats, Bryan Scott
Out: Brian Smith
Quick take: Some intrigue at this position, with Bradham playing the entire first half Thursday night, and Scott, one of the team's most tenured players, playing deep into the second half. Wouldn't be surprised if they bring in outside help here and shave Scott off the roster.

CORNERBACK (5)
In: Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, Crezdon Butler, Justin Rogers
Out: T.J. Heath, Nickell Robey, Kip Edwards
Quick take: The shakiest position on the roster, especially after Gilmore's injury. Maybe Rogers gets worked back into the mix after sitting out on Thursday night, but it's Butler who is in line to start in Week 1. Don't see the value in keeping Heath or Robey. Definitely one spot to look out for a free-agent signing or waiver claim.

SAFETY (5)
In: Jairus Byrd, Aaron Williams, Da'Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, Jonathan Meeks
Out: Jordan Dangerfield
Quick take: Was odd to see Searcy playing deep into Thursday's game, and not even starting. Perhaps the Bills were getting him snaps in sub packages, or maybe his roster spot is in jeopardy with Byrd returning. Until there's more clarity, keeping him on the projection.

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
In: Dustin Hopkins, Shawn Powell, Garrison Sanborn
Out: None
Quick take: Go Seminoles?