Bills

Who makes the Buffalo Bills 53?

This season the NFL owners elected to forego the 75-man cut in order to keep 90 players on their roster for week four of the preseason, which is usually a rest day for all the starters anyways.

Many believe the NFL should rid the fourth game entirely. But it’s that fourth game which really matters to those guys on the roster bubble who’re vying for those last few pots on the team.

Here are four receivers, battling for roster spots, to keep an eye on over the final two preseason games.

It’s certainly been an interesting training camp for the wide-out position. First, the Bills sign Anquan Boldin, a signing which instantly joyed Bills Mafia. Then on Friday, August 11th, the big shakeup came when the bills general manager traded away Sammy Watkins and brought in Jordan Matthews in two separate deals. Less than two weeks after the trade, Boldin elects to retire from football to pursue humanitarian efforts. Needless to say, the depth chart has looked mightily different from the start of camp until now.

With players like Matthews, Zay Jones, and Andre Holmes already with a job locked up, there are a few players left to battle for the last roster spot or two.

Here is a list of receivers to keep an eye on who are vying to make the Buffalo Bills this season.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 17: Rod Streater

This one is a question mark because of the injury he suffered last week against the Eagles. Head Coach Sean McDermott has been fairly quiet on Streater’s status, so I’m not sure how serious of an injury he’s suffered. When McDermott was asked about if Streater needed surgery, the Bills coach replied by saying “we’re weighing our options.”

Streater is in his sixth season in the NFL. His best season was his sophomore year where he nabbed 60 balls from the air and accumulated 888 yards with four touchdowns. Then the injury bug hit Streater, and he’s never been able to get going as a professional football player. And once again, he finds himself injured and on the roster bubble.

Streater has looked good in camp at times this offseason and has made some nice catches throughout pre-season, including the one that injured his foot against the Eagles. He had two catches for 40 yards through two exhibition games and was hoping he’d be able to show he could do more.

The sixth year wide-out had a chance of making this weak receiving group when camp started back in July. But with the injury to his leg, he may find himself on the injured/waived list if he’s unable to get back onto the field by week one.

ORCHARD PARK, NY – DECEMBER 24: Brandon Tate

Tate brings versatility to the position group. He’s a player who makes a living on special teams rather than as a wideout. Tate is in his second season with the Bills after spending the first seven years of his career in New England and Cincinnati.

Like Streater, his best season came as a sophomore. He had 24 catches for 432 yards and three touchdowns, to go along with his 1061 return yards with two scores. This is where he was most effective for the Bills last season. Tate had 963 return yards between kickoff and punt teams. His offensive numbers weren’t nearly as impressive. He only accumulated 117 yards on eight receptions.

Through the first two preseason games, Tate has yet to catch a ball on offense. So it seems like if Tate wants to make the Buffalo Bills it would have to be the return man, and hope he sees offensive snaps in empty back sets. Which I don’t see happening too often with Shady McCoy in the backfield.

He’s currently the main return man in Buffalo, but he’ll be pushed by fellow receivers Walter Powell and Rashad Doss, who are also looking to stick with the club.

BUFFALO, NY – OCTOBER 30: Walt Powell

Powell is an interesting case study here. He’s a guy who showed he could be an NFL receiver and started two games for the Bills last season. The biggest issue here is that he’ll be serving a four-game ban to start the season.

The former sixth rounder from Murray State violated the league’s substance abuse policy back in June and was handed a four game suspension.

In Powell’s limited snaps last season he snagged 14 catches for 142 yards. Interestingly, Powell’s best games last season came against division rival New England Patriots. He made seven catches for 81 yards in the two versus the Pats. However, Powell was most valuable under the Doug Whaley regime as a returner. Expect him to battle with Tate for those duties throughout camp.

However, Powell was most valuable under the Doug Whaley regime as a returner and is battling Tate for those duties throughout camp.

Theoretically, the Bills do not have to factor Powell in on the 53-man roster cut down on September 2nd. But come week five, Powell better have proved himself in camp enough to show the new regime he’s worthy of being kept from October onward.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 17: Brandon Reilly

Not only was Reilly an undrafted rookie signing for the Bills, but he was also a zero-star walk-on at the University of Nebraska.

Talk about the ultimate underdog.

He played four years as a Husker but was never a star receiver. He has 70 receptions over his time at Nebraska for 1275 yards and six touchdowns. Reilly’s claim to fame was his game winning touchdown in against number sixth ranked Michigan in 2015.

He’s turned some heads in the preseason and has made his case to make the 53-man roster. Through two games he has five catches for 57 yards, including a drag-of-the-toe touchdown against Philly.

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Reilly can play out wide, which seems to be a position of need for the Bills after the exit of Sammy Watkins. So that should bode well for the undrafted rookie from Nebraska. I’d expect him to get many snaps over the next couple weeks to showcase himself. With the injury to Streater and Powell’s suspension, Reilly can solidify a roster spot with a good showing in the next two preseason games.

Waivers

Now, of course, the Bills could opt to choose none these players should another team cut a better receiver. Beane will most likely be monitoring that position closely on cut day.

Which of these Bills receivers do you think will make the Bills roster this season?

 

 

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