5 Buffalo Bills Veterans Who Could Be Camp Casualties
We are just days away from the Buffalo Bills kicking off the 2014 football preseason in the Hall of Fame Game. Before you know it, you'll be planning for your fantasy draft.
The Bills are in the thick of training camp and had their seventh consecutive padded practice Wednesday. In addition, the Bills inked Fred Jackson to a one-year extension during a weather-related practice delay Wednesday, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.
As basically the heart and soul of the team, Jackson's roster spot was never in question. But there are other Bills veterans who could be unemployed by the time camp ends. Let's take a look at five experienced Bills players who could be cut by the end of camp.
We'll start with one we've known is a possibility since before camp even started.
With all the shuffling of the receivers during the offseason, T.J. Graham could find himself the odd man out. Mike Williams, Sammy Watkins, Marquise Goodwin and Robert Woods are virtual locks to make the roster, leaving—at most—two receiver spots up for grabs.
If the first week of training camp is any indicator, Chris Hogan will win one of those other spots. ESPN's Mike Rodak said Graham has been struggling in camp, describing two drops Graham had on catchable balls. Meanwhile, Rodak said Hogan is having "another good training camp" and the battle between the two players "isn't a contest right now."
With special teams ace Marcus Easley challenging for a spot as well, Graham's time in Buffalo could be limited.
This one is slightly less likely, but cornerback is another crowded position group that doesn't have room for all of the players competing.
While Syracuse.com's Matthew Fairburn did say Brooks has had some better practices lately, Brooks had some less-than-stellar days early in camp, as Fairburn noted. Brooks was also on Fairburn's list of "3 down" from earlier in camp. Fairburn said Brooks was struggling with injuries and having to take himself off the field a few times.
Brooks also has an injury history, missing time in his first two seasons in the pros. If that continues, he could be shown the door at the end of camp.
And as we mentioned, Brooks is also competing with a stable of cornerbacks. Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin are locks, and one can assume Corey Graham and Nickell Robey are as well. The Bills just drafted Ross Cockrell with the expectation of having him on the team, so there may not be room for Brooks once camp ends depending on how the roster shakes out.
After he fought back from an injury that cost him the entire 2013 season, it would be a shame to see Chris Hairston miss the cut in 2014.
Joe Buscaglia of WGR reported that Hairston had to leave Wednesday's practice early because of a back injury. Buscaglia also said it was the same body part that kept Hairston out of practices last year, which adds a little bit of concern to the situation.
Buscaglia said Hairston's status for upcoming practices isn't known, but he is fighting for a roster spot during camp. Hairston came in to the league as a tackle, but he has been splitting first-team reps at right guard recently, per Buscaglia. However, Buscaglia said Hairston "has yet to really take a stronghold on the opportunity."
In addition, Buscaglia pointed out that rookie Cyril Richardson got some time with the first team at right guard. Richardson wasn't making much noise to start camp, but Buscaglia said the rookie has "worked his way back into a favorable spot with the coaching staff."
If Hairston continues to be nagged by injuries or he doesn't separate himself for the competition, the team could cut him loose in favor or Richardson or another developmental player.
Kraig Urbik finds himself in the same boat as Hairston.
Urbik is the incumbent starter, but he has also yet to separate himself from the competition and earn the lion's share of the first-team reps, per Buscaglia.
In signing Chris Williams and drafting Richardson, it was clear the Bills thought they could use an upgrade at guard. Because of that, Urbik could be deemed expendable by the end of camp.
Now, Urbik's touchdown catch from the other day, per Rodak, could aid his status a little, but it's unlikely the Bills will be running many plays for rotational guards during the regular season.
If Hairston or Richardson makes strides in camp, he can put Urbik's spot in jeopardy. Also, if it comes down to just Urbik and Doug Legursky, the team will likely favor Legursky because of his ability to also play center.
There are more than just position players vying for roster spots.
There is also a competition going on for the punting job between Brian Moorman and Jacob Dombrowski. According to Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com, Dombrowski was having more success than Moorman during Wednesday's practice.
Another thing that would lead you to believe that Dombrowski has a chance is the fact that the Bills signed him to a three-year deal, whereas Moorman's on a one-year contract. The two players have comparable cap hits, and Dombrowski will make less than Moorman in 2014.
If both players have a comparable performance in training camp, the Bills could decide to go with the younger, cheaper option.