Buffalo Bills: Crezdon Butler

Despite making the bulk of their roster cuts on Friday, the Buffalo Bills could still be in for a busy weekend.

Nearly 100 players hit the waiver wire or open market Friday evening, giving the Bills a chance to comb the free-agent landscape for help.

Buffalo's roster stands at 55 players entering Saturday, and while they must get down to 53 players by 6 p.m., it may not be as straightforward as releasing two players. Waiver claims, signings and trades all could be in the forecast.

At what positions might the Bills need a boost? Here's a look:
  1. Cornerback: The Bills have battled injuries at this position since the start of training camp, and their most recent loss is their biggest. Top cornerback Stephon Gilmore is out six to eight weeks with a fractured wrist, creating a gaping hole in the secondary the Bills will try to fill. Outside of Gilmore, the Bills have veterans Leodis McKelvin, Justin Rogers and Ron Brooks under contract -- Brooks has been exclusively playing the slot -- while undrafted rookie Nickell Robey has also been retained to this point. It would be surprising if the Bills go into Week 1 with just those four players healthy. With Crezdon Butler released on Friday, they could use another option to try out at the position.
  2. Interior offensive line: There hasn't been any word on the exact nature of Doug Legursky's leg injury in Thursday night's preseason finale that required him to be carted off the field. The Bills did not place Legursky on injured reserve on Friday, but perhaps that's only because they're waiting for more tests. If it's a season-ending injury, the Bills would be down to just two backups along their offensive line: Thomas Welch and Sam Young. Both play primarily tackle, but could slide inside to guard in an emergency. Still, the Bills are likely on the lookout for interior offensive line help, particularly a player who, like Legursky, can play both guard and center.
  3. Quarterback: Quarterback was the biggest story of the Bills' preseason, and even with EJ Manuel closer to returning to play, they could still be in the market for a veteran backup. They released Matt Leinart on Friday after he posted a dismal 0.0 quarterback rating in Thursday's finale. Thad Lewis, acquired in a trade on Sunday, looks to have earned the No. 3 job, if only by default. The Bills would probably like a player with more experience than Lewis to join Manuel and fellow rookie Jeff Tuel in their quarterback meeting room.

 
Click here for a look at the Buffalo Bills' latest roster moves.

Most significant move: The Buffalo Bills were expected to start fourth-year cornerback Crezdon Butler in Week 1 in place of an injured Stephon Gilmore. However, Butler played 54 defensive snaps in the preseason finale Thursday night, a sign that his roster status was in doubt. Slotting Butler as the starter was more out of necessity than anything else; with Leodis McKelvin and Justin Rogers hampered by injuries this preseason, the Bills found themselves extremely thin at the position. Butler did not help his cause by struggling against the Detroit Lions in Thursday's loss. Expect the Bills to turn to Rogers as their opening-day starter alongside McKelvin.

Quarterback shuffle continues: Besides Butler, the most notable player to be released was quarterback Matt Leinart. The Bills signed Leinart and traded for Thad Lewis last Sunday, one day after Kevin Kolb suffered a serious concussion. As it turned out, the preseason finale was a competition between Leinart and Lewis for the Bills' third quarterback job. Leinart threw two interceptions in the first five possessions of the game, ending his night. Lewis fared better in the turnover category, but still only completed 44 percent of his passes, going 7-for-16 in the game.

What's next: The Bills released 18 players and placed another three -- Kolb, wide receiver Brad Smith, and running back Drew Smith -- on injured reserve. With 76 players on their roster entering Friday, the Bills are now down to 55. Safety Jairus Byrd's roster exemption has expired, meaning that they will, at a minimum, need to two more moves by Saturday's 6 p.m. ET deadline. Linebacker Bryan Scott could be one of those cuts; Byrd had a tweet earlier Friday that suggested Scott had been released.

Bills cuts: QB Matt Leinart, RB Zach Brown, RB Kendall Gaskins, WR Brandon Kaufman, TE Dorin Dickerson, TE Nick Provo, T Zebrie Sanders, G Antoine Caldwell, G Zack Chibane, C David Snow, DL Jarron Gilbert, OLB Kourtnei Brown, OLB Keith Pough, ILB Brian Smith, CB Crezdon Butler, CB T.J. Heath, CB Kip Edwards, S Jordan Dangerfield.

What to watch for: Bills-Lions

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
5:00
AM ET
The Buffalo Bills conclude their preseason on Thursday night, returning home to face the Detroit Lions. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.

Here's what to watch for:
  1. All eyes on Tuel: At the start of the preseason, rookie EJ Manuel was the focus at quarterback. Two weeks later, attention turned to Kevin Kolb. And now, with both Manuel and Kolb out with injuries, it's Jeff Tuel's chance in the spotlight. The undrafted rookie has been named the opening-day starter in the event Manuel is not ready to return from a minor procedure on his left knee. Tuel will face more national scrutiny on Thursday night than arguably any other player across the NFL. It's unlikely pressure for a preseason finale, and it will be worth monitoring how Tuel handles being thrust onto the main stage.
  2. How much time for starters? Normally, this is a game that starters either play minimally or sit out entirely. Does the Tuel situation change that? Beyond running back C.J. Spiller, who will not return to the team until this weekend after an excused absence, do the Bills dress their other top offensive players to get them in a rhythm with Tuel? The best guess from this perspective: Yes. The odds are against Manuel being able to return for Week 1, and if you're the Bills, opening against the New England Patriots, you want to make Tuel as comfortable as possible.
  3. Can the defense bounce back? After an encouraging outing against the Minnesota Vikings, the Bills defense laid an egg against the Washington Redskins last Saturday. The run defense was particularly suspect, allowing 208 yards on 43 carries. It's worth noting that the Bills' offensive struggles allowed the Redskins to control the time of possession in that game, but it was hardly a positive performance by Mike Pettine's unit. Even if starters play minimally, getting back on track will be important.
  4. Can corners lock it down? The Bills defense took a big blow on Monday when coach Doug Marrone announced that cornerback Stephon Gilmore would miss 6-to-8 weeks with a fractured wrist. Expect Crezdon Butler to start in his place on Thursday night. He'll be a player worth following during the game. If he struggles, the Bills will be scrambling for another option in their secondary.
  5. Injuries, injuries, go away: After emerging from the preseason opener in Indianapolis with no significant injuries, Marrone probably should have knocked on wood. His squad's health took some major blows over the next two weeks, with Manuel, Kolb, and Gilmore all going down. Another hit to either side of the ball would be crushing heading into the opener. And of course, the Bills probably don't even want to think about what they would do if Tuel was injured Thursday.

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