Sunday, September 1, 2013
Which Bills surprised by making the cut?
By Mike Rodak
The Buffalo Bills may trimmed their roster down to 50 players on Saturday, three fewer than the 53-man limit, but there were still a handful of surprises on the squad.
Here's a look at three players who some may not have expected to crack the roster:
OLB Jamaal Westerman: Signed in mid-August, the journeyman linebacker was a late addition to the mix, but unlike most other Bills defenders, had the advantage of knowing the defensive system. Westerman played three seasons (2009-2011) under defensive coordinator Mike Pettine with the New York Jets. At 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, he has ideal size for an outside linebacker in Pettine's system, and has flashed some potential as a pass-rusher (3.5 sacks in 2011). The Bills had been high on first-year linebacker Jamie Blatnick entering training camp, and he started over Westerman in the preseason finale Thursday night. However, Blatnick is practice squad eligible, while Westerman is not, which may have played a part in their decision to keep Westerman. He could contribute as a situational pass-rusher and special teams player this season.
DE Corbin Bryant: What stands out most about Bryant is his versatility. At 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, he can play both inside and outside in a 4-3 defense, and also has two seasons of experience at defensive end in the Pittsburgh Steelers' 3-4 defense. Bryant is practice squad eligible, unlike Torell Troup, who was released Saturday, but the Bills likely saw more value in Bryant. He adds a layer of depth on the defensive line, but as the sixth defensive lineman could be inactive on game days.
CB Nickell Robey: The Bills were excited about Robey, who is 21 years old, entering training camp. The smallest player on the Bills roster, Robey started the second preseason game and played 35 defensive snaps, but played only 11 snaps in the third preseason game and did not appear in defense in the finale. Buffalo must have liked what they saw out of Robey in his limited preseason action (not often is a favored undrafted rookie used so rarely in the preseason), or he was dealing with an injury. The Bills also used Robey on special teams as a punt returner; he muffed punt returns in back-to-back games, coughing the ball up to the defense inside the Bills' 10-yard line on each occasion. On the penalty end, Robey was flagged twice in the game he started against the Minnesota Vikings. Those factors combined make Robey a curious choice for the 53-man roster, but the Bills had scant options at cornerback.