Bills

Evaluation process for final cuts

Here’s the Bills news of note for Sept. 1st. 

1 – Evaluation process for final cuts
With the deadline to cut the roster to 53 looming at 4 pm on Saturday, the evaluation process by general manager Brandon Beane and the Bills coaching staff is in its final phase. As the Bills close out the preseason with a 27-17 win against the Lions, a tough two days of evaluations begin for the Bills. On the John Murphy Show, Beane said the process is rather arduous.

“We’ll digest what happens in the game,” said Beane. “We’ll come in [Friday], medically see where everyone is first. And then, get all the guys in. Break down the film. The next thing we’ll do is meet with the personnel guys, position by position, how they see it. And then we’ll come back, circle up with Sean, and the executive staff. We’ll talk about what we heard, what we didn’t hear, and then we’ll circle back with at least the coordinators…We’ll do that all day [Friday].”

In the best of circumstances, the final 53-man roster will be finalized Friday night. As Beane said, the process can be held up. If a position coach, or coordinator feels strongly about a certain player, they could sleep on the decision, and start early the next day.

“Sometimes we may see the skill of a guy, but they may say, I’ve been around this guy,” said Beane. “Or, I know through practice that he’s going to endure more, or he’s going to get better, he’s not quite there, but I think his ceiling is higher. He’s going to argue things, but then it’s my job and Sean jobs to listen, and then make the best decision.”

After making several tough decisions, in which Beane says they try to be as honest with players as possible, the team will then have to scour the cuts of other teams. This season there is only one cut down day, meaning the front office will have to be extra diligent in evaluating potential players to sign.

Beane said with the help of the PR department, they’ll be active in monitoring the cuts of other teams.

“The PR staff, they’re going to help us,” said Beane. “They’re going to be following Twitter, all the feeds out there, and everything that’s going on. Agents release stuff, teams release stuff, players release stuff…so, we’ll need the guys, the PR staff, they’re going to be big in helping us figure out who’s out there.”

Although the day will be hectic, Beane said he likes one cut down day better than two, as the NFL has done in the past. Beane ended by saying that simply because a player was cut doesn’t mean they didn’t tell him to work on specific weaknesses. The cut player may be able to catch on with another team, or the Bills may try to sign him back later in the season.  

2 – Milano and Elston excel in final preseason game
Although the defense had a rather impressive game against the Lions, two players shined above the rest. Rookie linebacker Matt Milano and second-year safety Trae Elston had particularly impressive games.

Milano, the Bills fifth-round pick in 2017, was drafted largely because of his athleticism. Having seen time at safety in college, Milano is a rangy linebacker that excels in coverage. His talent was on full-display against the Lions, as he ended the night with three tackles, and a pass break-up. Milano said he was happy with how he ended the preseason, and is looking forward to the upcoming year.

“I was excited,” said Milano. “But, I missed a few assignments as well. So, those are creeping up on me still. I made some good plays, but I also didn’t do things as well as I should have. Wherever they need me, I’ll be here every day ready to go.”

Elston was claimed off waivers by the Bills in April, after spending last season with the Cleveland Browns. The safety ended the night with possibly the most impressive stat line of any Bill on defense, as he totaled four tackles, one of which forced a fumble.

The hard-hitting nature of the safety made his play especially noticeable, and contributed to the turnover he forced. Elston, who entered camp in a battle to make the team, wouldn’t say he thinks he’s cemented his spot on the final roster.

“I was just trying to do my job,” said Elston. “And execute the plays. But, you never know until they call your name, you don’t know if they’re going to cut you or release you. I won’t know until they call me. I am confident though. I always think the positive things, but you know how this business is, so you never know.”

As final cut down day looms, both Milano and Elston proved that they haven’t only earned a roster spot, but could be key depth players for the Bills this season.

3 – Banyard impressed against the Lions
With LeSean McCoy and Mike Tolbert resting, running backs Joe Banyard and Jonathan Williams carried the load for the Bills offensively. Banyard, a fifth-year running back, entered the game firmly in a battle to make the roster. Although he’s third on the running back depth chart, Mike Tolbert had been used ahead of him at running back consistently throughout the preseason.

With a solid performance needed to cement his spot on the roster, Banyard turned his increased playing time into his best performance of the preseason. Banyard said he thought he played well.

“Nothing’s guaranteed,” said Banyard. “So, I definitely wanted to put something on film, just to make sure I’d be reliable to anyone around the league. I definitely want to be on this team. So, anything I can do, I just want to do that.”

Banyard ended the game with 14 carries for 68 yards, and a touchdown. His longest run of the night was for 40-yards, as he set up the offense in the red zone. He later ended that drive with a hard-earned one yard touchdown run.

As cuts are made, Banyard could find himself as the third running back on the Bills 53-man roster not only because of his performance in the final preseason game, but his entire body of work. Banyard has run with authority and his straight ahead, downhill style works in this offensive scheme.

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