Buffalo Bills: Ron Brooks

Taking a closer look at defensive snaps played by the Buffalo Bills in Sunday's 21-13 win over the Green Bay Packers:

Defensive ends:
Jerry Hughes -- 68 of 71
Mario Williams -- 55 of 71
Manny Lawson -- 19 of 71
Jarius Wynn -- 0 of 71 (injured/inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: So much for Hughes' lack of playing time, huh? One week after Hughes' snaps were dramatically cut after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in Denver, his playing time was ramped up considerably against the Packers. He played 96 percent of the snaps, a season high.

Defensive tackles:
Marcell Dareus -- 49 of 71
Kyle Williams -- 48 of 71
Stefan Charles -- 24 of 71
Corbin Bryant -- 23 of 71

Quick-hit thoughts: Status quo here, as the Bills stuck to a healthy rotation behind their two starters.

Preston Brown -- 71 of 71
Nigel Bradham -- 63 of 71
Brandon Spikes -- 8 of 71
Ty Powell -- 0 of 71 (special teams only)
Keith Rivers -- 0 of 71 (special teams only)
Larry Dean -- 0 of 71 (special teams only)
Randell Johnson -- 0 of 71 (inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: Spikes played in just 11 percent of snaps, as the Bills weren't in their base defense for much of the game. Bradham and Brown are more effective players against a passing offense like Green Bay's.

Corey Graham -- 70 of 71
Stephon Gilmore -- 68 of 71
Nickell Robey -- 63 of 71
Ron Brooks -- 10 of 71
Ross Cockrell -- 0 of 71 (special teams only)

Quick-hit thoughts: Gilmore seemed to be bothered early in the game by a neck/shoulder problem, but no injury was announced Monday. The Bills' depth was tested here, with Brooks getting more action on defense than usual, but this group performed as well as anyone could have asked.

Aaron Williams -- 70 of 71
Duke Williams -- 42 of 71
Bacarri Rambo -- 29 of 71
Da'Norris Searcy -- 0 of 71 (injured/inactive)

Quick-hit thoughts: This was the first time Rambo had been active since Week 12; he missed the past two weeks with a hamstring injury. When Williams -- who was still being evaluated Monday for a concussion -- went down, Rambo stepped in and had the game of his life. He could still have a role next week, as Williams' and Searcy's statuses are still up in the air.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Three days after being immobilized, carted off the field and hospitalized following a neck injury, Buffalo Bills cornerback Ron Brooks returned to practice Wednesday.

It turns out that Brooks wanted to come back sooner than that.

"A lot of me acting crazy [at the hospital], because I was trying to get back to the game," Brooks said Wednesday. "I was telling them not to take my clothes and my jersey off, my cleats. I didn't want anything to be taken off.

"I wanted them to take me back to the game in the ambulance. I was just trying my best to get back to the game."

Brooks said he felt "his neck pop" as he took a hit in the lower body covering a punt in the first quarter, landing on his helmet. The third-year cornerback said he never lost feeling in his extremities.

Brooks expects to play Sunday against the New England Patriots.

"Nothing to be concerned about," he said. "I'm not concerned, doctor's not concerned, I'll be full go. No worries."

The Bills listed Brooks as limited on their Wednesday injury report but he said he was "full go" in practice.
DETROIT -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Buffalo Bills' 17-14 win over the Detroit Lions:

Bills report laser pointer: Before his 58-yard game winner, Bills kicker Dan Carpenter missed a 50-yard field goal in the third quarter. He was visibly upset after the kick, speaking to referee Craig Wrolstad until officials directed him back to the sideline. Now we know why: Coach Doug Marrone said after the game that there was a laser pointer in the stands that distracted Carpenter. The Bills reported it to NFL security and had a photo of it; the laser apparently came from a fan.

Ron Brooks kept overnight: The Bills said cornerback Ron Brooks, who was hospitalized during the game after suffering a neck injury, will be kept in Detroit overnight for observation. Word from the Bills' locker room was that initial tests on Brooks were encouraging.

Jackson talks injury: Running back Fred Jackson, the workhorse of the Bills' offense so far this season, said he suffered a right ankle sprain late in the game. "It's sore. X-rays were negative," Jackson said. "I'll be all right. Just do some rehab and get back out there next week." Jackson said he re-entered the game after the injury.

Wilson receives game ball: For the second time this season -- the first coming after the Bills' Week 1 win in Chicago -- controlling owner Mary Wilson was given the game ball in the locker room. It likely was her final game as owner; NFL owners are expected to approve Terry and Kim Pegula's ownership transfer this week.

Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills

October, 5, 2014

DETROIT -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 17-14 win Sunday over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

What it means: Slow start and quite the finish from the Bills, who get back on track and improve their record to 3-2. Their quarterback switch -- benching EJ Manuel in favor of Kyle Orton -- didn't pay off early, with Orton throwing a pick-six to Rashean Mathis in the first half. But the Bills, powered by a strong defense and three missed field goals by Detroit, clawed their way back into the game. Dan Carpenter's 58-yard field goal with four seconds left gave the Bills their first lead. It was all they needed.

Stock watch: C.J. Spiller, down. He was ineffective Sunday, rushing nine times for 7 yards. The Bills turned away from Spiller in the middle of the game; he didn't record a touch from early in the second quarter until late in the third quarter. Fred Jackson, who rushed for 50 yards and added seven catches, was used more often. Spiller did, however, have three catches for 25 yards. Jackson limped off the field late in the fourth quarter with an apparent right leg injury.

Watkins watch: The Bills' switch at quarterback didn't have a dramatic impact on the production of rookie Sammy Watkins -- until late in the game. He caught a 20-yard pass from Orton to spark the Bills' game-winning field goal. Watkins finished with seven catches for 87 yards. He was targeted 12 times by Orton, with one of the incompletions coming on a questionable non-call in the third quarter when the officials picked up a pass-interference flag against the Lions. The Bills were driving, and that penalty would have given them a fresh set of downs in the red zone.

Schwartz carried off: After the win, Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the Lions' former head coach, was carried off the field by his players. Schwartz put his fist in the air and smiled.

Brooks injured: Third-year cornerback Ron Brooks was upended by Lions safety Jerome Couplin while covering a punt in the first quarter, landing directly on his helmet. Brooks was immobilized and taken off the field on a cart. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation of a neck injury.

Game ball: DT Marcell Dareus. On a day when the Bills were without defensive captain Kyle Williams, another defensive tackle stepped up. Dareus set a career high with three sacks, including a strip-sack of Matthew Stafford in the fourth quarter.

What's next: After playing three of their first five games away from Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Bills will make two only road trips in the next eight weeks. They begin a two-game homestand next Sunday against the New England Patriots, their second AFC East game of the season.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills starting left guard Chris Williams (back) is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.

  In his place, the Bills are expected to start either rookie Cyril Richardson or veteran Kraig Urbik. Coach Doug Marrone added there could be a rotation between the two players.

Williams left last Sunday's loss to the San Diego Chargers after 15 snaps and also missed time with a back injury in the preseason.

Meanwhile, cornerback Ron Brooks is probable after missing Friday's practice with an illness.

Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who was listed earlier in the week with an illness and later a head injury, is now officially listed with a concussion.

Here is the Bills' full Friday injury report:

WR Marcus Easley (knee; did not participate)
LB Randell Johnson (knee; did not participate)

G Chris Williams (back; did not participate)
WR Marquise Goodwin (concussion; did not participate)

CB Ron Brooks (illness; did not participate)
LB Keith Rivers (groin; limited participation)
S Da'Norris Searcy (ankle; limited participation)
WR Sammy Watkins (ribs; full participation)
QB EJ Manuel (abdominal; full participation)
WR Robert Woods (ankle; full participation)
RB C.J. Spiller (chest; full participation)

Marrone: Rotation led to Graham sitting

September, 21, 2014
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Buffalo Bills' 22-10 loss to the San Diego Chargers:
  • One of the game's more curious decisions was the Bills' choice to start Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore -- and not Corey Graham -- at cornerback. Graham, who has arguably been the Bills' best cornerback this season, emphasized in the locker room that he "hasn't earned anything" but admitted, "I'll be standing here lying if I said I didn't want to start." Coach Doug Marrone said the Bills "rotate guys in" at cornerback and that led to Graham starting the game on the bench. McKelvin, who allowed a 49-yard Malcom Floyd catch and committed a 31-yard defensive pass interference penalty, wasn't in the locker room by the time reporters entered.
  • Wide receiver Sammy Watkins was blunt when speaking about the offense's struggles. "We sucked on third downs," Watkins said. While third downs were a problem, the Bills (43 percent) actually fared better than the Chargers (38 percent) and performed better than their average through their first two games (33.3 percent).
  • The Bills exited Sunday's game with three official injuries: left guard Chris Williams (back), wide receiver Marcus Easley (knee), and safety Da'Norris Searcy (ankle). Not on that list was cornerback Nickell Robey, who was replaced by Ron Brooks later in the game. Brooks called the move a coach's decision and said Robey's health was fine.

Breaking down Bills' defensive snaps

August, 24, 2014
The Buffalo Bills' starters saw their most significant action of the preseason in Saturday's 27-14 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Here is a breakdown of the defensive snaps, grouped by the order in which players entered the game on defense:

Defensive end
Mario Williams -- 34 of 68 (starter)
Jerry Hughes -- 33 of 68 (starter)
Manny Lawson -- 31 of 68 (entered in first quarter)
Jarius Wynn -- 16 of 68 (entered in first quarter)
Jacquies Smith -- 17 of 68 (entered in third quarter)
Ikponmwosa Igbinosun -- 3 of 68 (entered in fourth quarter)
Bryan Johnson -- 3 of 68 (entered in fourth quarter)

Quick-hit thoughts: It was interesting to see Lawson play deep into the fourth quarter, although I don't think it means his roster spot is in jeopardy. This is one of the deeper groups on the roster, especially with Lawson, and could even go five deep. I wouldn't count out Smith's chances for a roster spot just yet.

Defensive tackle
Marcell Dareus -- 16 of 68 (starter)
Corbin Bryant -- 51 of 68 (starter)
Stefan Charles -- 41 of 68 (entered in second quarter)
Landon Cohen -- 27 of 68 (entered in second quarter)
Damien Jacobs -- 3 of 68 (entered in fourth quarter)
Kyle Williams -- 0 of 68 (injured/did not play)
Alan Branch -- 0 of 68 (did not play)

Quick-hit thoughts: Without Williams, the Bills gave a heavy load of snaps to Bryant. He fared very well. Charles and Cohen quickly subbed in for Dareus, who had relatively light lifting Saturday. This group appears set.

Brandon Spikes -- 37 of 68 (starter)
Nigel Bradham -- 34 of 68 (starter)
Keith Rivers -- 30 of 68 (entered in first quarter)
Preston Brown -- 37 of 68 (entered in first quarter)
Randell Johnson -- 20 of 68 (entered in third quarter)
Ty Powell -- 19 of 68 (entered in third quarter)
Jimmy Gaines -- 6 of 68 (entered in fourth quarter)
Xavius Boyd -- 0 of 68 (special teams only)

Quick-hit thoughts: The Bills opened in a nickel look, so Rivers stayed on the bench. We saw Brown on the weak side for some snaps, a spot where he's likely to start in Week 1. Johnson and Powell round out the depth chart. Not much intrigue at this position.

Stephon Gilmore -- 43 of 68 (starter)
Leodis McKelvin -- 22 of 68 (starter)
Nickell Robey -- 17 of 68 (starter)
Ron Brooks -- 24 of 68 (entered in second quarter)
Ross Cockrell -- 21 of 68 (entered in third quarter)
Kamaal McIlwain -- 20 of 68 (entered in third quarter)
Sam MillerBobby Felder -- 0 of 68 (injured/did not play)
Mario Butler -- 0 of 68 (injured/did not play)

Quick-hit thoughts: I was surprised to see McKelvin play after he missed time later in the week with a groin injury. The Bills limited his workload and replaced him with Brooks in the second quarter. For the first time this preseason, Cockrell saw time at cornerback (as opposed to nickel back), but that might have been the result of injuries to Felder and Butler.

Aaron Williams -- 31 of 68 (starter)
Da'Norris Searcy -- 19 of 68 (starter)
Corey Graham -- 21 of 68 (entered in first quarter)
Duke Williams -- 20 of 68 (entered in first quarter)
Jajuan Harley -- 5 of 68 (entered in third quarter)
Deon Broomfield -- 18 of 68 (entered in third quarter)
Kenny Ladler -- 17 of 68 (entered in third quarter)
Derek Brim -- 8 of 68 (entered in third quarter)
Jonathan Meeks -- 0 of 68 (injured/did not play)

Quick-hit thoughts: Plenty of rotation at these spots in both halves. Searcy and Aaron Williams were the first pairing but then sat in favor of Duke Williams and Corey Graham for a drive in the first quarter. The starting duo returned in the second quarter. We've seen this throughout the preseason -- the Bills testing different combinations on their back-end and evaluating them for regular-season usage. The same held true in the second half, when the four less experienced players (Harley, Broomfield, Ladler, and Brim) mixed and matched.
Earlier Monday, we posted our latest Buffalo Bills 53-man roster projection and as a follow-up, we broke down the 35 cuts to get to the limit.

There were five players that we considered "on the bubble" and two other players who were "rusted locks," meaning there were seven players who came close to making the cut. If any of those seven players were included on the 53-man projection, which seven players would be the first to go?

Here's our answer to that question:

No. 53: Stevenson Sylvester: We included Sylvester on the 53-man projection almost entirely because of a one-game suspension for Nigel Bradham. Since Bradham is likely to return for Week 2, it's essentially a case of which player the Bills want to keep for an extra week. Since Ty Powell is dealing with a "medical" issue, and Bradham is suspended, the Bills could be down to as few as four linebackers for their opener in Chicago. That could create an opportunity for Sylvester to be the fifth linebacker that day and contribute on special teams.

No. 52: Corbin Bryant: One of the more wide-open battles on the roster is for the backup spot to Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus at defensive tackle. Bryant and Stefan Charles have been the first on the field at that position in the preseason, followed by Landon Cohen, Damien Jacobs, and Alan Branch. Of those last three, Cohen's play has stood out the most. However, if the Bills must limit themselves to four defensive tackles, then Charles and Bryant are projected to get the nod in this projection.

No. 51: Chris Gragg: This one is tied to the health of Tony Moeaki. The Bills kept four tight ends at the end of last season and we could easily see them going down to three tight ends to start this season. But if Moeaki isn't fully healthy by Week 1, it could open a spot for Gragg. He has been fairly quiet this preseason and could be an ideal candidate for the practice squad, but until we have more clarity on Moeaki's status we'll keep Gragg on the projection.

No. 50: Ty Powell: Powell's "medical" status bears watching, as he has been out of practice for more than a week. When Powell has played in the preseason, he has been with the third team, which is somewhat of a red flag. Because of his special teams contributions and the Bills' relative lack of depth at linebacker, we think he should be safe for the 53-man roster, barring his health condition being serious.

No. 49: Doug Legursky: Legursky started 11 games last season so I don't think the team would take any decision to cut him lightly. While he is undersized, he is experienced and has the versatility to play both guard and center. If Chris Williams returns healthy for Week 1, and Kraig Urbik retains his starting job at right guard, I would project Legursky as the top interior backup active for the opener. That would likely mean Cyril Richardson would be a game day inactive. The alternative would be to cut Legursky and have Richardson as the game-day backup. He has been limited to just right guard this preseason though, so Urbik would need to move to center or left guard in the event of an injury.

No. 48: Stefan Charles: The story is the same as Bryant's. The Bills will need to decide which two players they want to backup Williams and Dareus. For right now, we'll give Charles (and Bryant) the edge over Cohen.

No. 47: Ron Brooks: Brooks has practiced and played well this preseason and is deserving of a spot. However, he's locked in a numbers game at cornerback. His roster spot is likely safe if the Bills keep six cornerbacks, but if they go fewer than that, he'd be the first player out.

Breaking down Bills' defensive snaps

August, 17, 2014
The Buffalo Bills' starters saw their most significant action of the preseason in Saturday's 19-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Here is a breakdown of the defensive snaps, grouped by the order in which players entered the game on defense:

Defensive end
Mario Williams -- 21 of 56 (starter)
Jerry Hughes -- 21 of 56 (starter)
Manny Lawson -- 20 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Jacquies Smith -- 20 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Jarius Wynn -- 12 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Ikponmwosa Igbinosun -- 9 of 56 (entered in fourth quarter)
Bryan Johnson -- 9 of 56 (entered in fourth quarter)

Quick-hit thoughts: Small tweak in the middle of the list, with Smith entering the game before Wynn. That was likely due to the Bills being in their sub package at the beginning of the second half. When the Steelers went back to their base personnel, Wynn came into the game. Smith is pushing for a roster spot but may be left on the outside.

Defensive tackle
Kyle Williams -- 19 of 56 (starter)
Marcell Dareus -- 21 of 56 (starter)
Corbin Bryant -- 23 of 56 (entered in second quarter)
Stefan Charles -- 15 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Landon Cohen -- 16 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Damien Jacobs -- 9 of 56 (entered in fourth quarter)
Alan Branch -- 9 of 56 (entered in fourth quarter)

Quick-hit thoughts: The red flags for Branch get bigger and brighter. He didn't enter the game until the fourth quarter, playing alongside three inexperienced players (Jacobs, Igbinosun, Johnson). If the Bills keep two reserve options behind Williams and Dareus, those spots could come down to Bryant, Charles, and Cohen.

Brandon Spikes -- 20 of 56 (starter)
Keith Rivers -- 11 of 56 (starter)
Nigel Bradham -- 15 of 56 (starter)
Preston Brown -- 29 of 56 (entered in second quarter)
Randell Johnson -- 19 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Stevenson Sylvester -- 18 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Jimmy Gaines -- 6 of 56 (entered in fourth quarter)
Xavius Boyd -- 4 of 56 (entered in fourth quarter)
Ty Powell -- 0 of 56 (medical/did not play)

Quick-hit thoughts: Seeing a separation between Sylvester, the fifth-year pro, and Gaines, an undrafted rookie. With Bradham suspended, the Bills have an extra roster spot to use in Week 1. It could go to Sylvester.

Stephon Gilmore -- 21 of 56 (starter)
Corey Graham -- 21 of 56 (starter)
Nickell Robey -- 17 of 56 (entered in first quarter)
Ron Brooks -- 18 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Bobby Felder -- 11 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Ross Cockrell -- 25 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Mario Butler -- 10 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Kamaal McIlwain -- 17 of 75 (entered in third quarter)
Sam Miller -- 14 of 56 (entered in fourth quarter)
Leodis McKelvin -- 0 of 56 (did not play)

Quick-hit thoughts: For three consecutive games, Cockrell has exclusively played in the slot. Felder and Brooks were the outside cornerbacks when he was on the field. In a sense, that could be a very good sign for Brooks' roster security. In the event of an injury to Gilmore, McKelvin, or Graham, he could get the nod over Cockrell.

Da'Norris Searcy -- 21 of 56 (starter)
Duke Williams -- 20 of 56 (starter)
Aaron Williams -- 18 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
JaJuan Harley -- 18 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Deon Broomfield -- 16 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Kenny Ladler -- 14 of 56 (entered in third quarter)
Derek Brim -- 9 of 56 (entered in fourth quarter)
Jonathan Meeks -- 0 of 56 (injured/did not play)

Quick-hit thoughts: Marrone reiterated after the game that Aaron Williams remains a starter. That means the team wanted to get film on Searcy and Duke Williams playing together against the Steelers' first-team defense.
Before the Buffalo Bills kicked off their preseason in the Hall of Fame game, we identified seven defensive players to keep an eye on during the contest.

Let's circle back on their playing time and performances Sunday against the New York Giants:

Preston Brown -- Brown played in 33 snaps, tied for the most among Bills defenders. He entered the game on the Giants' third offensive drive through their first possession of the third quarter. He aligned exclusively at 'Mike' linebacker and was also on the field in the nickel package. In the running game, he showed some physicality against offensive linemen but was pushed around more often than not. On the positive side, he showed good pursuit coming from the weakside of the formation to tackle Rashad Jennings on an 8-yard run in the first quarter. On the negative end, he over-ran Jennings on a 12-yard gain two plays later and could have taken a better angle on Andre Williams' 21-yard run later on that drive. In the second quarter, Brown broke into the backfield but whiffed trying to tackle Peyton Hillis on a three-yard run. In the passing game, he leaped to pick off Ryan Nassib on a pass over the middle, on a play called back by penalty. Overall, it was a so-so night for Brown. It was his struggles -- at times -- in run defense that surprised us, as that was Brown's strength in college.

 Randell Johnson -- Johnson played in 24 snaps, entering the game on the third defensive series and playing through the third quarter. He came off the field for sub packages, limiting his snap count. More of an on-the-line, edge player, Johnson may lack the instincts of some linebackers used to playing off the line. He misread gaps on a few plays and took some poor angles in pursuit, including on Williams' 21-yard run in the first quarter. On the plus side, he was a strong tackler, taking down Hillis with a thud on a run in the third quarter. Johnson isn't a candidate to replace Kiko Alonso the weak side, but he's a project on the strong side.

Jimmy Gaines -- Gaines played in 24 snaps, initially coming on as a fourth linebacker when the Giants went to their heavy personnel in the second quarter. After that, his playing time was limited to the fourth quarter. That slips him off our radar a bit.

Ron Brooks -- With Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin not playing, Brooks started and played 26 snaps. That's a continuation of where he's been slotted in camp and generally a good sign for his roster spot. Brooks' receiver was targeted only when the Giants' offense was on the field, a 5-yard gain by Jerrel Jernigan in which Brooks made a nice, wrap-up tackle. He wasn't targeted after Eli Manning left the game.

Ross Cockrell -- Cockrell, a fourth-round pick, played less than what we had expected with just 17 snaps. Mario Butler was the first sub in at cornerback, while Bobby Felder came on next. Cockrell came on with the nickel and played through the fourth quarter. Nassib targeted Cockrell's receiver in the second quarter on a deep post pattern. Cockrell trailed in coverage but the pass, as best as can be seen from the camera angle, came in too strong. There was a similar play later in the quarter where Cockrell had tighter coverage and the throw also came in high, down the seam to Julian Talley.

Duke Williams -- Williams played 33 snaps, tied with Brown for most on the defense. He entered the game late in the first quarter and came off after the first drive of the third quarter. Other than his hard hit on Andre Williams in the second quarter, there isn't much to evaluate on Williams, given our camera angle. The Giants didn't target the deep part of the field much on Sunday night.

Jonathan Meeks -- Meeks played 24 snaps, taking over in the second quarter after Da'Norris Searcy got an extra series on the field. Meeks played through the first drive of the third quarter and was mostly aligned "in the box" as a safety. He missed a tackle on a 25-yard gain by Giants receiver Marcus Harris in the second quarter.
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills' preseason opener against the New York Giants is quickly approaching.

While starters aren't expected to see any extended action, there will be several players who can benefit from the extra preseason game.

After highlighting players to watch on offense, we'll shift the focus to defense:

Preston Brown -- The third-round pick could have a significant role this season. Assuming Brandon Spikes only plays for a short period at the beginning of Sunday's game, Brown is expected to wear the defensive communication helmet for most of the contest. It will be valuable experience for Brown, who might not start games this season but could still see considerable time on defense. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has given Brown high marks since he arrived in May.

Randell Johnson & Jimmy Gaines -- Kiko Alonso's injury opened up a roster spot at linebacker, which could eventually come down to Johnson (seventh round) or Gaines (undrafted free agent). Johnson got a late start to camp while on the PUP list and could make his mark on special teams. Gaines received some snaps with the first-team defense last week in camp and could make a push with a strong preseason. Both players figure to see plenty of action Sunday night, giving coaches their first chance to evaluate the two rookies in live action.

Duke Williams & Jonathan Meeks -- The pair of safeties were drafted in back-to-back rounds last year but neither emerged on defense as rookies. Williams, a fourth-round pick, has yet to challenge Da'Norris Searcy for the starting safety job alongside Aaron Williams. Earlier in camp, coach Doug Marrone noted that Duke Williams has "flashed" ability at times but needs to be more consistent. Expect the duo to see extended playing time Sunday.

Ross Cockrell & Ron Brooks -- Can the Bills afford to carry six cornerbacks? That's a question that will linger throughout the preseason, and the performance of both players will be a factor. Cockrell, a fourth-round pick, is virtually assured a roster spot. But if Brooks, entering his third season, shows to be a more reliable option this August, then he could earn a spot ahead of Cockrell on the depth chart. Neither player has stood out in a positive or negative light through two weeks of camp. With the Bills managing the health of starters Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore -- it wouldn't be surprising if both didn't suit up Sunday -- these two cornerbacks should play for a chunk of the game.

Counting the Bills: Cornerbacks

July, 17, 2014
Continuing a series analyzing the economics of the Buffalo Bills' roster, position by position:

Position: Cornerback

Total cap value: $13,955,033
Compared to NFL average: 8.5 percent higher
NFL positional rank: 14th

Portion of Bills' total cap number: 10.4 percent

2014 cap numbers:
Leodis McKelvin: $4.575 million (6th on Bills, 20th among NFL cornerbacks)
Stephon Gilmore: $3.295 million (Bills: 13th; NFL: 35th)
Corey Graham: $2.55 million (Bills: 17th; NFL: 50th)
Ron Brooks: $670,135 (Bills: 41st; NFL: 114th)
Ross Cockrell: $536,888 (Bills: 54th; NFL: 182nd)
Nickell Robey: $497,333 (Bills: 57th; NFL: 191st)
Mario Butler: $495,000 (Bills: tied for 59th; NFL: tied for 195th)
Brandon Smith: $495,000 (Bills: tied for 59th; NFL: tied for 19th)
Darius Robinson: $420,000 (Bills: tied for 78th; NFL: tied for 252nd)
Michael Carter: $420,000 (Bills: tied for 78th; NFL: tied for 252nd)

Average per year:
McKelvin: $4.25 million (10th on Bills, tied for 26th among NFL cornerbacks)
Graham: $4.075 million (Bills: 11th; NFL: 28th)
Gilmore: $3.021 million (Bills: 16th; NFL: 38th)
Cockrell: $671,888 (Bills: 39th; NFL: 131st)
Brooks: $625,135 (Bills: 45th; NFL: 150th)
Butler: $540,000 (Bills: tied for 55th; NFL: tied for 205th)
Smith: $540,000 (Bills: tied for 55th; NFL: tied for 205th)
Robinson: $510,000 (Bills: tied for 68th; NFL: tied for 232nd)
Carter: $510,000 (Bills: tied for 68th; NFL: tied for 232nd)
Robey: $497,333 (Bills: 75th; NFL: 260th)

Most overpaid: Graham. Is a fourth cornerback worth over $4 million per season? It's a question we posed shortly after his signing in March and one that will continue. McKelvin and Gilmore are both under contract for the next several seasons, so it isn't a situation where Graham will slide into a starting role soon. Depth at cornerback is important in today's pass-heavy NFL and Graham contributes on special teams, so his contract isn't entirely outrageous, but it's still an odd one. If Graham beats out Robey for the slot cornerback job and becomes the third cornerback, his deal will be more palatable.

Most underpaid: Robey. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz insisted during organized team activities that Robey will still have a role with the team despite the additions of Graham and Cockrell this offseason. Robey played well last season and should hold down his job as the slot corner. If his strong play continues through this season then the Bills can begin negotiating an extension after the season. Undrafted players are allowed to renegotiate their contracts after their second year of their rookie deal, as opposed to after the third season for drafted players.

Bills Bubble Watch: Ron Brooks

June, 25, 2014
(Continuing a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2014.)

Name: Ron Brooks

Position: Cornerback

Age: 25

2013 stats: 11 games (no starts), nine tackles

Chance of making 53-man roster: 40 percent

Why he should make it: To the surprise of some, Brooks lined up at cornerback with the first-team defense for the majority of organized team activities. While starters Leodis McKelvin and Stephon Gilmore sat out OTAs with injuries, Brooks seeing that much time with the top defensive unit could indicate a shift in how he is viewed by the defensive coaches. He played sparingly last season under Mike Pettine, but perhaps Jim Schwartz has a different opinion. At such a deep position, though, Brooks' primary contributions will have to come on special teams. It's hard to see him as any more than the sixth cornerback on the roster, which is one player heavier than what most teams carry. Brooks would likely have to push a linebacker off the roster -- Ty Powell and Randell Johnson would be his closest competition, in that case.

Why he shouldn't make it: The Bills have a crowded cornerback depth chart. Perhaps in reaction to last season, when injuries forced Justin Rogers into the starting lineup early in the season, the Bills signed Corey Graham to a four-year, $16 million deal and drafted Ross Cockrell in the fourth round. Added to Gilmore, McKelvin and Nickell Robey, the Bills have their core group of cornerbacks. Unless the Bills unexpectedly cut Robey or there is a serious injury, Brooks could be out of a job in a pure numbers game.

Closest competition: Robey, Powell, Johnson

Bills risers from OTA practices

June, 13, 2014
With the Buffalo Bills' ninth and final organized team activity in the books, the team will turn its attention to a three-day mandatory minicamp next week.

In the meantime, let's recap OTAs first by highlighting some risers from the three weeks of practices:

WR Robert Woods: After being limited during the first week of practice as he recovered from ankle surgery, Woods upped his workload in the second week and didn't look back. The Bills' offense was at its best during OTAs when EJ Manuel was throwing to Woods. That is not entirely unexpected; with Stevie Johnson gone, Woods was Manuel's top returning receiver from last season. Woods was credited with zero drops last season and he kept that streak going, to the best of our memory, during OTAs. Woods and Manuel have a chemistry that has yet to develop between Manuel and Sammy Watkins, but that is to be expected at this point.

LB Preston Brown: You can sense that the Bills already have a comfort level with Brown running their defense. Brown, a third-round pick from Louisville, began OTAs as the third 'Mike' on the field, behind Brandon Spikes and Ty Powell. Yet when Spikes missed two practices, it was Brown who stepped in with the first team. He didn't look out of place. Asked last week to point out strengths and weaknesses of his defense, coordinator Jim Schwartz named Brown, without prompting, as a "really good young player" who has "done a really nice job through this." By the end of OTAs, Brown saw more reps with the first-team nickel defense, which is where he could make the biggest impact in his rookie season.

WR Chris Hogan: Soon after the Bills began their offseason program, coach Doug Marrone mentioned Hogan as someone who caught his eye. "[Hogan] has really looked good since we’ve come back," Marrone said on May 10. "He’s another player I feel really good about in the slot." Not surprisingly, Hogan lined up in the slot with the first-team offense throughout OTAs. At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, Hogan is a tad bigger than the prototypical slot receiver and doesn't have the same short-area quickness that some teams might expect from the position. Yet if he can hold down that spot, he stands a strong chance of making the final roster. Having Hogan on the inside would keep Woods on the outside and push Mike Williams and T.J. Graham down the depth chart, but it could be in the best interest of the offense. We'll see.

CB Ron Brooks: Limited by foot injuries in each of his first two seasons, Brooks was afterthought at cornerback entering OTAs. With Corey Graham and Ross Cockrell added to a group that already included Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, and Nickell Robey, where would Brooks fit? That perception changed when Brooks lined up with the first-team defense and held down that role throughout OTAs. With Gilmore and McKelvin both recovering from offseason surgeries, Brooks' reps in practice should be taken with a grain of salt, but it's clear he is very much in the discussion at cornerback. If he is able to carve out a role on special teams, the Bills might go an extra spot deeper at the position on their final roster to accommodate him.

Later Friday, we will highlight some fallers from OTAs. Stay tuned.

Bills draft preview: Cornerback

April, 18, 2014
Continuing a position-by-position preview of next month's draft from a Buffalo Bills perspective:

Position: Cornerback

Current personnel: Stephon Gilmore (signed through 2015), Leodis McKelvin (2016), Corey Graham (2017), Nickell Robey (2015), Ron Brooks (2015), Brandon Smith (2015), Mario Butler (2015)

Draft need: Low

State of the position: Four of the Bills' 19 pre-draft visits have been cornerbacks, tied for the most of any position. That's slightly surprising, as the Bills have a young core of players already in place at the position. Gilmore's wrist injury knocked him off track last season, but with continued development he could be one of the NFL's better cornerbacks. McKelvin is coming off a career season, while Robey was a steal as an undrafted free agent last spring.

One wild card is Graham, who coach Doug Marrone hinted at the owners meetings could be tried at safety. But even if Graham shifts to the back end, he could move back to cornerback in case of injury. That lessens the need to draft a cornerback. The other wild card is Robey, who is undersized and may be viewed differently by Jim Schwartz than he was by Mike Pettine. If Robey takes a step back, then the Bills could use some help at cornerback. But it's hardly a pressing need.

One name that could work in Buffalo? Oklahoma's Aaron Colvin, who was projected to be an early-round pick before he tore his ACL during a Senior Bowl practice in January. He won't be ready for the start of this season and could be available later in the draft. If there's a player to draft and stash on PUP or injured reserve, Colvin could be it.

Sweet spot: Mid-to-late rounds

Possible targets: Ross Cockrell (Duke), Walt Aikens (Liberty), Aaron Colvin (Oklahoma)