The Buffalo Bills are back in action Friday night and there are several players who can help improve their chances of making the roster with a big game.
With Buffalo Bills training camp now officially over the focus now turns to the final three preseason games before the start of the regular season in Baltimore on September 9.
Who will make the final 53-man roster? What will the Bills depth chart look like heading into the regular season? Who will start at quarterback? These are just some of the questions the Bills will be looking to answer before the regular season starts.
Heading into training camp and the preseason the Bills had several roster battles for depth and roster spots raging other than the one to decide who starts at quarterback. Throughout training camp and last week’s first preseason game some of the answers at these positions began to take shape and surface.
While there are still three preseason games to go, some of the players involved in these battles can really begin to separate themselves from the pack and help solidify their roster spot and place on the depth chart.
Tomorrow night’s game in Cleveland will help give us some more answers to these competitions. Let’s take a look at three Bills to watch tomorrow night who can help their case for a roster spot and improve or solidify their spot on the depth chart.
DE Shaq Lawson
Shaq Lawson is a former first-round pick of the Rex Ryan regime who has never reached his potential since being in Buffalo. Shaq was hyped to be a great pass rusher but that has never materialized, with Lawson only amassing six career sacks in 21 career games.
Prior to the offseason program starting, Shaq was called out by Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott as someone who had to step it up big time. Lawson also acknowledged that he needed to get his act together. Shaq has had a great training camp and played well last week against Carolina.
With free agent signee Trent Murphy hobbled by injury for the majority of training camp and missing last week’s preseason tilt against Carolina, Shaq has been given the chance to play with the first-team defense and show he can be the player the Bills drafted him to be.
With another strong showing in Cleveland this week Lawson can all but lock down a roster spot and perhaps show the Bills coaching staff that they shouldn’t be in such a hurry to hand the starting job to Trent Murphy even when he is healthy.
TE Jason Croom
Entering training camp most analysts and fans would have said that Charles Clay was the Bills top tight end followed by Nick O’Leary. After Clay and O’Leary the depth chart was basically up for grabs. You may want to hold off on that declaration after all.
Croom has basically played his way into contention to be the Bills’ second tight end with his strong offseason and training camp. He also made an excellent grab on a pass from Josh Allen last week against Carolina.
Croom is a converted wide receiver with excellent size at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds. He is a capable run blocker and his pass catching ability is excellent. With his size and versatility he makes an excellent match for Brian Daboll’s offense.
If Croom can continue his strong play tomorrow night in Cleveland then he may not only help his stock, but also solidify his roster spot all together. If Croom does just that it may be Nick O’Leary who is fighting for a final roster spot and not Croom.
RB Marcus Murphy
Marcus Murphy was the talk of the town after last week’s preseason game against Carolina. He looked like an excellent backup running back but was thought to be further down the depth chart not only behind LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory, but also behind Taiwan Jones and Travaris Cadet.
Murphy, however, showed that might be a bit of a premature declaration. He looked elusive, powerful and every bit the part of what you would want in a complementary running back behind McCoy and Ivory.
If Murphy continues his strong play this week he could begin to give thought to the fact that he is actually the third running back behind McCoy and Ivory pushing both Cadet and Jones down behind him.
Murphy is also the youngest running back on the team among that group, giving even more reason to keep him over either Jones or Cadet for the 53-man roster. Murphy will once again get plenty of playing time tomorrow night and will certainly be a man to watch throughout the game.
The Bills final roster is anything but set in stone at this point and the next three preseason games are going to be a major factor in how the roster ultimately shakes out.
While everyone (and justifiably so) wants to talk about who the starting quarterback is going to be, these other roster spots are also going to be very important to the success of the Bills in 2018 and beyond.