Bills likely to start rookies Reggie Ragland, Adolphus Washington

The Buffalo Bills open training camp on July 30 at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, New York. Here's a starting lineup projection:


Quarterback (Tyrod Taylor): The coming months could be the most important of Taylor's career. Tens of millions of dollars ride on the second-year starter's ability to solidify his standing as the franchise quarterback.

Running back (LeSean McCoy): On one hand, McCoy seems to be a critical piece of the Bills' run-first offense, especially given his contract. But if he gets injured again, could the Bills get by with their three promising young backs -- Karlos Williams, Mike Gillislee and Jonathan Williams? I think so.

Fullback (Jerome Felton): The Bills moved quickly to sign rookie fullback Glenn Gronkowski after he went undrafted this spring, which could put some pressure on Felton to have a strong camp and keep his heftier contract on the Bills' payroll.

Wide receiver (Sammy Watkins): His broken foot became one of the bigger stories of the Bills’ offseason and the third-year receiver said Tuesday that he still does not know exactly when he will return to practice. Regardless of when he hits the field again, Watkins must stay healthy this season after he battled through numerous injuries his first two seasons.

Wide receiver (Robert Woods): The Bills put out some signs early in the offseason that they wanted to upgrade from Woods, their 2013 second-round pick, but they backed off as no better options emerged. He's entering his contract year and has a chance to earn himself a big deal, likely elsewhere, if he can get Taylor to throw his way.

Tight end (Charles Clay): The expectations for Clay are higher because of the money the Bills forked over to pry him away from the Dolphins. He didn't completely rise up to that level last season, but he is still one of the NFL's better two-way tight ends who can contribute in the passing game and as a run blocker.

Left tackle (Cordy Glenn): The 2012 second-round pick picked up his play last season at the right time, earning a player-friendly extension this spring from the Bills that makes him one of the highest-paid tackles in the league.

Left guard (Richie Incognito): He returned to the NFL last season in the best way possible, earning a Pro Bowl nod and the respect of his teammates. The well-liked veteran was rewarded with a three-year contract this offseason and looks to have a few more years of hard-nosed football left in his 33-year-old body.

Center (Eric Wood): Now in his eighth season with the Bills, he has become a bona fide locker-room leader and made his first Pro Bowl appearance last season.

Right guard (John Miller): The Bills' 2015 third-round pick coped with the death of his mother last October and struggled at points late last season as he dealt with an ankle injury. The arrow is pointing up as he enters his second season.

Right tackle (Jordan Mills): This assumes that Seantrel Henderson, the Bills' opening-day starter the last two seasons at this spot, isn't ready to step back into the lineup for Day 1 after treatment for Crohn's disease this offseason.


Defensive end (Adolphus Washington): The Bills hosted Washington and five other Buckeyes on pre-draft visits, and Rex Ryan told both Washington and quarterback Cardale Jones that the Bills would pick them if they were on the board. Washington went to Buffalo in the third round and will be a starter from day one; Jones came to the Bills in the fourth round.

Nose tackle (Marcell Dareus): He's expected to play more of a true nose-tackle role this season, as he did in 2013 under Mike Pettine. He's a dominant run-stopper and interior pass-rusher no matter where he lines up.

Defensive end (Kyle Williams): He's now 33 and the Bills' longest-tenured current player, but the Bills should be able to get at least another good season out of one the most dependable players in their locker room. With Williams coming off a season-ending knee injury, the team is likely to manage his workload during training camp and the preseason.

Outside linebacker (Jerry Hughes): His sack total dropped considerably last season (5) compared to the two prior seasons (19.5 combined), but make no mistake: He's still one of the NFL's most talented pass-rushers. The question is how often he'll be able to chase after quarterbacks as he plays more of a true 3-4 outside linebacker role this season. He was never a great fit in a similar system in Indianapolis.

Outside linebacker (Manny Lawson): This was supposed to be first-round pick Shaq Lawson's starting spot but shoulder surgery shut down the rookie until possibly October. At this point in his career, Manny Lawson is more of a field general who will keep the defense running smoothly -- but he's not a huge factor in the pass rush.

Inside linebacker (Preston Brown): He wasn't as vocal as Mario Williams but Brown was among players grumbling late last season about the confusion posed by Ryan's defense. Signs are pointing to Brown buying in better this spring, but as the Bills' on-field signal-caller, the Bills need Brown and Ryan on the same page. The Bills stripped Brown of his radio-equipped helmet late last season and gave it to Manny Lawson.

Inside linebacker (Reggie Ragland): The Bills wanted Ragland so badly at the start of the second round that they started calling every team ahead of them to trade up. They found a partner at No. 41 in the Bears, and now Ragland will be tasked with filling the role formerly held by Nigel Bradham. Ragland's a thumper, but how well can he hold up against the talented pass-catching tight ends in the AFC East?

Cornerback (Stephon Gilmore): Gilmore wasn't totally clear when asked if he'll report to training camp on time amid an ongoing contract negotiation, but once he hits the field, Gilmore has the chance to earn himself a huge payday with another excellent season.

Cornerback (Ronald Darby): Expect to hear his name more around the NFL this season. The Bills' second-round pick last season slid immediately into the starting lineup and became one of the NFL's best cornerbacks.

Safety (Aaron Williams): He's back on the field after a major injury scare last season. How his surgically repaired neck holds up to the rigors of training camp and the regular season will bear watching; Williams went numb in parts of his body last season when he last tried to play.

Safety (Corey Graham): The former cornerback is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and although he adds a steady veteran presence to the locker room, he was a liability at times last season in coverage.

Special teams

Kicker (Dan Carpenter): The veteran will need to hold off undrafted rookie Marshall Morgan this summer to earn a roster spot and earn back some money that the Bills held back this spring. He can't miss six extra points again this season, as he did last year.

Punter (Colton Schmidt): He ranked ninth in the NFL last season in Punt EPA, an advanced statistic that tracks how many expected points are added by each play.

Long-snapper (Garrison Sanborn): Many outside of Buffalo haven't heard of him. Given his position, that's a good thing. He's one of the NFL's best.

Kick returner (Kolby Listenbee): This is truly guesswork at this point, and who returns kicks depends on whom the Bills keep on their 53-man roster. They never found a consistent option last season and the race seems wide open again this summer.

Punt returner (Javier Arenas): Ryan said Arenas' path to making the team is by returning punts. Good thing the veteran cornerback has the most experience on the Bills' roster doing just that.