3 Buffalo Bills Who Will Steal Starting Spots in Training Camp

Justin NeumanContributor IIAugust 6, 2014

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) runs from New York Giants cornerback Jayron Hosley (28) after a catch during the Pro Football Hall of Fame exhibition NFL football game Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, in Canton, Ohio. New York won 17-13. (AP Photo/David Richard)
David Richard/Associated Press

Buffalo Bills training camp is in full swing, and despite the excitement surrounding the upcoming football season, head coach Doug Marrone is grumpy.

It's hard to blame him, though. The Bills lost their first (albeit meaningless) preseason game, and the offense struggled in the red zone throughout preseason practices.

However, there is still ample time for the Bills to sort out their issues. The defense is looking as stout as ever, and that should keep them in some games; it put them in position to win on more than one occasion last year.

That's because there are talented players all over the Bills roster. Because of the influx of talent, some players could unexpectedly snag some starting spots heading into the regular season. Here's a look at three such players.

This isn't an iron-clad declaration that these players will be Week 1 starters, but rather a look at players maximizing their opportunities based on good practice performance, injuries or poor play by players in front of them.


Seantrel Henderson, OT

Perhaps the player with the most to gain from a good camp, Seantrel Henderson is making general manager Doug Whaley look smart for taking a chance on him in the seventh round.

Henderson started the first preseason game in place of Cordy Glenn, and the rookie didn't look out of place against a talented New York Giants defensive line. Henderson even handled Jason Pierre-Paul on a few occasions. If and when Glenn returns to action, he will reprise his duties protecting EJ Manuel's blind side.

But if Henderson continues to have a strong preseason, he could challenge to start somewhere else along the offensive line, most likely at right tackle. According to WGR 550 Sports Radio's Joe Buscaglia, the battle between Cyrus Kouandjio and Erik Pears hasn't been as competitive as many originally thought, and neither have been able to take a stranglehold on the competition.

If Glenn returns, the Bills could look at Henderson on the right side if Pears and Kouandjio aren't cutting it. And if for some reason Glenn can't get back right away, Henderson looks to be the team's next option at left tackle.


Chris Hogan, WR

One of the most surprising developments out of the Hall of Fame Game was the fact that Chris Hogan got time with the first-team offense over Robert Woods. Woods, the team's second-round pick from last year's draft, had a solid rookie season and was primed to expand on that in his sophomore campaign.

Since Marrone is doing his best Bill Belichick impression this year, he didn't have anything to say about why Woods wasn't out there with the first team. Manuel, however, said he was "surprised" Woods was used as a backup, per Syracuse.com's Matthew Fairburn.

Taking Woods' snaps in the slot was Chris Hogan, who is quickly solidifying his roster spot. Per Fairburn, Hogan has been having a strong camp thus far, and the coaches rewarded him with time with the starters. It's safe to say the division of playing time between the two players in Friday's game against the Carolina Panthers will be monitored closely by fans and media alike.

Maybe Woods took the demotion personally, though, because he had an excellent practice Wednesday:

During one part of practice, Marrone took Woods aside for a one-on-one conversation:

If Woods keeps that chip on his shoulder, he should be able to get back with the starters. But if Hogan continues to impress in camp, he can steal some playing time from Woods.


Landon Cohen, DT

Here's the longest shot of the bunch, but Landon Cohen is a player to start keeping an eye on.

Marcell Dareus injured his hamstring in practice Wednesday, which opened the door for Cohen to get some first-team reps, per Mike Rodak of ESPN. Rodak said Marrone talked about how Cohen had two tackles for a loss against the Giants and deserved more reps. Cohen made the most of those extra snaps, too:

Considering Dareus' injury, it's hard to see him playing in Friday's game. That could give Cohen another opportunity to shine while the spotlight is on.

And since there could still be a suspension in Dareus' future for his tumultuous offseason, the Bills may be looking for help at defensive tackle to start the season. Should Cohen make the team, he could have as good a chance as anyone to stand in for Dareus.