NFL Nation: Jonathan Meeks

W2W4: Bills at Patriots

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
4:05
PM ET
The final hours of the Buffalo Bills' season are ticking away, but there is still one last game to play.

When the Bills travel to face the New England Patriots for Sunday's season finale, there's a few items coach Doug Marrone wants to check off the list.

First, the Bills have yet to win at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002. Second, the Bills have a chance to finish with a winning record in the division for the first time since 2007. And finally, a win Sunday would give Buffalo its first three-game winning streak since the first three games of the 2011 season.

That's what's on the line for the Bills in Foxborough, Mass. Here's what else to watch for:

1. Lewis' curtain call: With EJ Manuel sidelined for a second consecutive game with a knee sprain, backup Thad Lewis will make his fifth start of the season. Now 2-2, Lewis will have a chance to finish with a winning record as the starter. But more importantly, Lewis could be playing for his job next season. At this point, nothing seems guaranteed at quarterback for the Bills. If they bring in another option at the position this offseason, then Lewis could become the third quarterback -- if that role exists on the roster. In that sense, Sunday's game has some added importance for Lewis.

2. Swan song for Byrd? Could this be Jairus Byrd's final game with the Bills? The safety will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and unless the Bills decide to assign him as their franchise player, he will hit the open market. Either way, this will be Byrd's 73rd career game with the Bills. He has 353 tackles, 22 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles, and three sacks in his five-year career.

3. What about Chandler? This could also be the final game for tight end Scott Chandler with the Bills. Like Byrd, he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason and could find greener pastures elsewhere after a career season (50 catches for 600 yards). With Chandler's future uncertain, this could be the time for the Bills to debut tight end Tony Moeaki, who they signed three weeks ago. He was active for the first time last Sunday but did not play an offensive snap. It would make sense for the Bills to evaluate Moeaki in game action before deciding how he fits into their plans for next season.

4. Last chance for Williams, Meeks: With safety Aaron Williams placed on injured reserve Friday, the Bills are expected to use Jim Leonhard and Da'Norris Searcy in his place. Leonhard is a free agent after this season but played every snap in last Sunday's win. Meanwhile, Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks -- who the Bills drafted in back-to-back rounds in April -- did not appear on defense, which has been the norm this season. Perhaps that changes Sunday. If not, it's a troubling sign at a position where the Bills could see turnover this offseason. It would make sense for Buffalo to evaluate their draft investments in what will be their final game until next August.

Manny Lawson (hamstring) out for game

October, 13, 2013
10/13/13
2:46
PM ET
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills linebacker Manny Lawson left in the first half of Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals with a hamstring injury.

The Bills announced that he will not return to the game.

Lawson started the first six games of the season, recording 35 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble.

Meanwhile, Bills rookie safety Jonathan Meeks left with a knee injury and will not return.
Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd signed his franchise tender, the team announced late Tuesday.

Byrd
It was really just a matter of time before the Bills had Byrd back in the fold. After not reaching a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline, the franchise-tagged safety did not report to training camp in late July.

For a Pro Bowler like Byrd, skipping out on camp was a logical move. With about eight months standing between him and his next shot at unrestricted free agency, his risk of injury -- and any potential financial losses in his next contract -- were minimized by remaining at home.

But the Bills will pack up their training camp at St. John Fisher College later this week, and make the 90-mile trek back to their facility in Orchard Park, NY. With dorm living in the rearview mirror and roster cut-down dates approaching, it was also time for Byrd to make the trip back to Buffalo.

It's unlikely that Byrd will see any action in Saturday's preseason game in Washington, if he suits up at all. And while you can bet that Byrd has been doing some distance learning of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's playbook over the last month, he will still need to get up to speed on the field.

Once Byrd is ready to play, the Bills will have some decisions to make at safety.

Through their first two preseason games, here's a look at how the Bills divided snaps at the position, without Byrd:

Aaron Williams (starter): 16 snaps versus Indianapolis, 27 snaps versus Minnesota.
Da'Norris Searcy (starter): 22 snaps versus Indianapolis, 31 snaps versus Minnesota.
Jonathan Meeks: 35 snaps versus Indianapolis, 20 snaps versus Minnesota.
Duke Williams: 29 snaps versus Indianapolis, 16 snaps versus Minnesota.
Jordan Dangerfield: 13 snaps versus Indianapolis, 24 snaps versus Minnesota.
Dominique Ellis: 8 snaps versus Indianapolis, 19 snaps versus Minnesota.

At this point, it's a good bet that the Bills will stick with Aaron Williams in one of their starting roles. The converted cornerback, a second-round pick in 2011, has come on strong this offseason after an underwhelming start to his career in Buffalo.

Searcy, a fourth-round pick in 2011, played in 15 games last season and was among the team's leaders in snaps on special teams at 56 percent, according to data compiled by FootballOutsiders.com. He figures to return to a similar role and back up both Byrd and Williams at safety.

Beyond that, the Bills invested a pair of 2013 draft picks in Meeks (fifth round) and Duke Williams (fourth round). Barring injury, both should make the 53-man roster.

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