Buffalo Bills' bubble players to watch


While Saturday's preseason game should feature a heavy dose of the Buffalo Bills' starters, the contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might also be a final chance for players on the bubble to make an impression.

From that perspective, here are some of the players we will be watching:

T.J. Graham: He remains the Bills' top "bubble" player. With six receivers already considered locks for the 53-man roster, Graham might need an injury to make the cut. However, he can make a strong push for a job with another team with a good outing Saturday. Graham saw more time with the first-team offense as training camp progressed, and with Sammy Watkins not expected to play Saturday, Graham should have chances to catch passes from starting quarterback EJ Manuel. The Bills will need to make a decision on Graham shortly after Saturday's game. Would they release him early and allow him time to catch on elsewhere? Or do they hold onto him and try to get him back on their practice squad, now that he is eligible under the NFL's new rules? Any trade involving Graham seems unlikely but he is one of the more intriguing players on the roster as the preseason closes.

Kraig Urbik & Doug Legursky: Could these two players be battling for one roster spot Saturday? The return of Cordy Glenn had a trickle-down effect on the offensive line this week, with Erik Pears moving to right guard to accommodate Seantrel Henderson at right tackle. That resulted in Urbik, Legursky, and Cyril Richardson manning the backup interior spots. Most teams only keep two interior backups on their 53-man roster, so unless the Bills want to go one player more than the norm, Legursky and Urbik could be dueling for one spot. Richardson, a fifth-round pick, is a virtual lock.

Landon Cohen: How many defensive tackles will the Bills keep? That's the question that could decide Cohen's fate. A seventh-year pro, Cohen has been disruptive this preseason but doesn't have the same upside as Stefan Charles, who should take one of the backup interior spots on the defensive line. Corbin Bryant, meanwhile, replaced Kyle Williams with the first team in practice Thursday, a sign that he is very much in the mix for a backup spot as well. The Bills might need to keep five defensive tackles in order to assure Cohen a spot. That's not unusual but it might not be necessary. Though Cohen has played well this preseason, he would likely be a game-day inactive this season. Cohen is on his ninth NFL team and was out of football from February until July, when the Bills signed him. He's deserving of a spot, but he might be available as an in-season pickup if needed.

Dustin Hopkins: Do the Bills really need a kickoff specialist? Hopkins' job depends on it. He had touchbacks on four of his six kickoffs in the first two preseason games before a groin injury sidelined him last weekend. If Hopkins is healthy enough to kick Saturday, it might be his last chance to make his case as the kickoff man. Most teams only carry one kicker, and Dan Carpenter has proven capable enough on kickoffs.