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Bills left with four healthy receivers as tough decisions loom

The Buffalo Bills must trim their roster to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon, but barring miracle healing by several players, it's safe to say the Bills won't be making cuts at wide receiver.

The Bills finished Saturday's preseason win over the Pittsburgh Steelers with just four healthy receivers: Marcus Easley, Dez Lewis, Andre Davis and Tobais Palmer.

Three players -- Marquise Goodwin (ribs), Marcus Thigpen (lower back) and Austin Willis (head) -- left Saturday's game and did not return. And the Bills were already down five receivers for the game: Sammy Watkins (glute), Robert Woods (hip), Percy Harvin (hip), Chris Hogan (ankle/knee) and Deonte Thompson (foot).

The injuries cloud the picture at wide receiver significantly as the Bills are set to cut down to 75 players on Tuesday and 53 players by Saturday.

Here are some key thoughts on the position:

  • When the Bills travel to Detroit for their preseason finale Thursday, expect Lewis, Davis and Palmer to get the bulk of the playing time. They'll be catching passes from Matt Simms the entire game. I would still consider Lewis and Davis in the mix for roster spots, so they'll be more than empty reps.

  • Rex Ryan said after the game that Goodwin "might have had a few broken ribs," which puts his status in doubt. Goodwin was already on the roster bubble. If he is expected to miss extended time, the Bills have several options. They could: (1) release Goodwin outright with an injury settlement, (2) place him on injured reserve, (3) keep him on their 53-man roster and wait until he heals, or (4) keep him on their 53-man roster and then place him on the injured reserve/designation to return list, keeping him out at least eight weeks.

  • Word is that Thipgen left the game for precautionary reasons and will be fine. He ranks fifth in the NFL this preseason in punt return yards (96 yards on six returns) and has taken the majority of punt returns this preseason with Leodis McKelvin and Woods both ailing. Thigpen, who finished last season as the Bills' primary punt returner, has a legitimate shot to crack the 53-man roster.

  • Hogan's status for the regular-season opener is still in doubt. Ryan said he is "cautiously optimistic" that Hogan can be ready, but he could be one of the Bills' seven inactives for that game.

  • The Bills have stated they would like to get Harvin playing time in the preseason finale, although it's easy to question the logic of that decision given the rash of injuries at wide receiver. The better bet might be to sit Harvin until the opener.

  • Watkins and Woods should be ready for the regular-season opener.

  • The severity of Thompson's injury isn't known. He remains on the roster bubble, and his injury muddles his status.