AFC East: Mike Caussin

The Buffalo Bills signed linebacker Stevenson Sylvester on Wednesday, adding another player to compete at the position following the loss of Kiko Alonso to a season-ending knee injury.

Sylvester, who turns 26 on Friday, was a fifth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010. He played in 50 games in four seasons with the Steelers, making two starts. He should compete with Ty Powell and rookie Randell Johnson for a role on special teams.

To make room for Sylvester on the 90-man roster, the Bills waived tight end Mike Caussin, who missed each of the past two seasons with injuries. Caussin had been with the Bills since 2010.

In a procedural move, the Bills placed Alonso on the active/non-football injury list. Alonso remains on the 90-man roster and can be taken off the list at any time. The Bills may later choose to place Alonso on the reserve/non-football injury list, which would keep him out of at least the first six weeks of the regular season. He isn't expected to play this season.

The Bills also placed Johnson and cornerback Leodis McKelvin on the active/physically unable to perform list. Johnson participated fully in spring practices while McKelvin was recovering from hip surgery. Either player can come off the list at any time.

In addition, the Bills placed offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and defensive tackle Alan Branch on the active/non-football illness list. Either player can return at any time during training camp.

Bills slowly trimming active roster

August, 19, 2013
The Buffalo Bills have been busy on the NFL's transaction wire over the past week. With the team's third preseason game approaching -- they travel Saturday to face the Washington Redskins -- the Bills have begun the process of paring down their 90-man roster.

Here's a snapshot look at their moves since last Tuesday, which have cleared eight roster spots:

Aug. 13: Waived P Brian Stahovich
Aug. 14: Waived/injured TE Mike Caussin; signed LB Jamaal Westerman
Aug. 15: Placed Caussin on injured reserve; waived DT Aaron Tipoti
Aug. 18: Placed WR Kevin Elliott on injured reserve; waived OT Tony Hills, WR Terrell Sinkfield, CB Don Unamba, and S Mark LeGree
Aug. 19: Released K Rian Lindell

In the last week, the Bills have settled their kicker battle by releasing Lindell, as well as their competition at punter by cutting Stahovich. Meanwhile, Tipoti and Caussin had missed most of training camp with injuries, and Elliott suffered a season-ending injury in Friday's preseason game.

As of Monday afternoon, the Bills' roster stands at 82 players. All NFL teams must trim their roster to 75 players by Aug. 27 at 4 p.m. ET.

Here's an early look at where the Bills can make some further snips to their squad:

Offensive line -- The Bills are carrying 15 offensive linemen on their active roster. According to the Buffalo News' Jay Skurski, only Keith Williams and Thomas Welch were held out of practice Monday. Meanwhile, tackle Chris Hairston remains on the active/physically unable to perform list. Moving him to the reserve/PUP list would clear a roster spot, but keep him out at least the first six weeks of the regular season. Either way, the Bills look to carry only about half of these 15 players into the regular season.

Defensive line -- The Bills have a pair of big-name players who are working back from injuries (Mario Williams and Kyle Williams), which could lead Buffalo to stay heavy on their defensive line numbers through the final two weeks of the preseason. Yet a longshot such as Izaan Cross (11 snaps vs. Minnesota) could be part of the 75-man trim.

Safety -- Even as franchise-tagged Jairus Byrd remains unsigned, there's not a whole lot of intrigue at this position. Aaron Williams and Da'Norris Searcy have filled in well in Byrd's place and will stay in those spots for now. Beyond that, the Bills invested two draft picks in safeties (Jonathan Meeks and Duke Williams), and unless there's a late injury, they also will be in the mix. That might mean Jordan Dangerfield (13 snaps vs. Minnesota) and Dominique Ellis (eight snaps vs. Minnesota) could be soon on the outs.
On Thursday, the Buffalo Bills placed tight end Mike Caussin on injured reserve, one day after he was waived/injured with a hip injury that kept him out of most of training camp.

Caussin hadn't played in a game for the Bills since December 2011, spending all of last season on the physically unable to perform list, but he would have been in the mix for a roster spot this preseason if healthy.

Instead, the Bills will continue to lean on Lee Smith, a fifth-round choice of the New England Patriots in 2011 who has settled into a role with the Bills, starting seven games last season. At 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, Smith is known as a hard-nosed blocker, but has caught just eight passes in two NFL seasons.

The Bills have an emerging threat at tight end in veteran Scott Chandler, who had 43 catches and six touchdowns in 2012 before a torn ACL ended his season in late December. Just eight months removed from surgery, the Bills have eased Chandler back into action during training camp.

Head coach Doug Marrone said that Chandler will likely play in Friday's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, but even with Chandler on pace to start in the regular season opener, it's surprising that the Bills did not bring in another tight end this offseason as insurance.

While the Bills anticipate using three-wide receiver formations frequently and making use of their running backs in the passing game, another injury to Chandler could limit the Bills offense.

Beyond Smith, the Bills' options at tight end are Dorin Dickerson, a converted wide receiver with limited NFL experience, and a pair of first-year players: Chris Gragg (seventh round) and Nick Provo (undrafted). At this point, all are back-end roster or practice-squad level players.

The Bills have a first-year general manager in Doug Whaley who will need several seasons to develop depth across the roster, an important component for any team over the rigors of a 16-game season. But right now, it's not hard to imagine that tight end is one position where the Bills know they are thin.

Buffalo Bills practice report

August, 3, 2013
While the biggest news out of Buffalo Bills training camp on Saturday was quarterback Kevin Kolb slipping on a wet rubber mat and injuring his knee, the morning practice was also the first with live contact.

Coach Doug Marrone dialed up the intensity at the end of the session, allowing live tackling for 15 plays, the first eight of which were at the goal line, according to WGR 550's Joe Buscaglia.

The offense had the decisive edge in that period, scoring six times, including twice on catches by offensive linemen on the field as eligible receivers.

Buscaglia also noted that defensive end Mario Williams, who continues to be limited by a sore foot, had his workload in practice increased Saturday. He took part in positional drills after spending most of the week on the sideline for everything except the walk-through at the beginning of practice.

Wide receiver Steve Johnson (hamstring), cornerback Justin Rogers (hamstring), tight end Mike Caussin (hip), and wide receiver Kevin Elliott (shoulder) did not practice on Saturday, Buscaglia reported.

Roster move: The Bills signed wide receiver Terrell Sinkfield on Saturday afternoon, bringing their roster to 90 players. Sinkfield is an undrafted rookie out of Northern Iowa who had previous stints with the Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers.

Bills practice update

August, 2, 2013
The Buffalo Bills returned to the practice field on Friday, and the biggest news was wide receiver Stevie Johnson leaving with a left hamstring injury. Bills coach Doug Marrone said after practice that he did not know the severity of the injury, and that Johnson will be evaluated by Buffalo's doctors. The NFL Network reported Johnson will have an MRI.

"It would be a major concern when we talk about it during the season, but right now, I think a veteran player that has proven himself, we'll just see what the doctors say," Marrone said.

Tight end Mike Caussin also left practice Friday with a hip injury.

Otherwise, here are some observations from the practice, which was the Bills' fifth of training camp:
  • Defensive tackle Kyle Williams, who has been held out of team drills early in training camp while he works his way back from Achilles surgery, saw some reps during 11-on-11 drills today, according to Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550.
  • After Marrone said Wednesday that he wasn't pleased with the results of the competition at left guard, Doug Legursky took more first-team reps on Friday, in place of Colin Brown, Buscaglia noted.
  • Wide receiver Kevin Elliott, who left Wednesday's practice with a shoulder injury, remained out of action on Friday, according to Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News.
Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson breaks down the tight ends of each AFC East team. Today: Buffalo Bills.

The Bills clearly rank last in the AFC East at tight end. It is a real area of weakness for Buffalo, and adding a good option there could really help this offense.

Amazingly, Jonathan Stupar’s 12 catches led all Buffalo tight ends last season. He doesn’t excel in any area of playing the position, though. His blocking is suspect, and his receiving skills are far from special. He has only 18 catches over his three-year career. Stupar should be a backup.

Shawn Nelson is the most talented player in this poor stable of tight ends, but he missed the last five games of the season with migraine issues. It is unclear whether this will be a recurring problem, but obviously Buffalo needs Nelson to be on the field. Nelson has much work to do, though, as a blocker.

David Martin, Scott Chandler and Mike Caussin also are in the mix. Martin has had flashes of productivity as a receiver over his 10-year career, but he consistently gets pushed around in the run game. Martin caught only seven passes in 2010. Chandler has done nothing to speak of since entering the league and played only four games last season, but he is a big target with some natural athleticism. Caussin will have to excel on special teams to make the final roster -- especially if Buffalo spends money in free agency to add a legitimate tight end. That would be a great move if Buffalo can pull it off. Zach Miller immediately comes to mind -- he would be perfect for the Bills. And wow, do they need him.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for

Seasons greetings from Orchard Park, N.Y.

December, 26, 2010
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Cold, gray and windy is the forecast for Sunday's matchup between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills here at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Temperature at kickoff will be about 23 degrees, but it will feel like 9 degrees, with winds gusting up to 23 mph. The chance of snow is 50 percent.

New England could clinch the AFC East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while a victory over the Patriots would make Buffalo's season. The Bills have won four out of their past six games, including an overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Buffalo has lost 14 straight games to New England and 19 out of 20 in the series.

The inactives:

New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills