The Buffalo Bills must cut their roster to 75 by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday and to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday (Sept. 3). Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:
Jones sat out Friday's preseason loss to the Redskins with shoulder soreness. He never posed a serious threat this summer to Manuel's hold on the No. 2 job, and Jones will remain as the No. 3 this season as Buffalo continues to try to develop him.
This position has become straightforward to project, as it's unlikely any of these four players are cut and also unlikely that James Wilder Jr. or Dan Herron are able to crack the final roster. The question is when Gillislee returns from the concussion protocol and how the Bills will assign playing time to him, Bush and Williams behind McCoy in the regular season.
FULLBACK (1): Jerome Felton
Undrafted rookie Glenn Gronkowski saw some action with the first team in practice last week and coach Rex Ryan did not rule out the possibility of keeping two fullbacks, but it's hard to see the Bills managing that, given needs at other positions on their roster. Felton is more expensive, but Gronkowski hasn't done enough to unseat him this summer.
The Bills might not finalize the last two or three spots at this position until the final preseason game. Dezmin Lewis continued to fade in Friday's preseason loss in Washington, not catching any of his three targets. The 2015 seventh-round pick doesn't look like he'll grab a roster spot, and I also have veteran Greg Little getting cut in this projection to make room for an extra lineman. Marcus Easley (knee) heads to the reserve/physically unable to perform list, and rookie Kolby Listenbee lands on the reserve/non-football injury list in this projection; both could return as soon as Week 7.
Chris Gragg's knee injury suffered in Friday's game -- which will keep him out for the entire season -- shakes up the projection at this spot. Dray becomes the undisputed No. 2 tight end, and the final spot comes down to Annen and 2015 sixth-round pick Nick O'Leary. I'll give the edge to Annen, who has more potential as a blocker. The Bills could also look to the waiver wire for better depth at this spot.
The Bills activating Henderson from the active/non-football illness list last week shook up the outlook here. For now, I'll project them to carry an extra lineman on the roster, but I believe they're probably one player too heavy at this spot. Unless they're willing to move on from Mills (their starting right tackle), Henderson or Kouandjio -- which doesn't seem likely -- they might have to choose between Velasco and Groy as their lone backup interior lineman. Groy played some center in practice last week, indicating Velasco's job could be in jeopardy.
I still have the Bills one player short at this position than what most teams with a 3-4 defense would prefer, at least until Marcell Dareus returns from his suspension in Week 5. It's a spot where the Bills could either pick from the group of reserves currently on their roster after Douzable or scour the waiver wire for early-season help.
There is still an element of uncertainty at this position because of the NFL's investigation into a potential violation of the personal conduct policy by Lawson. If he is suspended, I think Kroy Biermann is a slam dunk to make the 53-man roster to start the season. If Lawson isn't suspended, at least initially, then the final spot could come down to Biermann and Albright. In that case, the Bills would have to weigh experience (Biermann) against youth and potential (Albright).
Nothing changes here since my last projection; I don't think veteran David Hawthorne has performed well enough in the preseason to earn a roster spot.
I went with Sterling Moore for the final spot in my last projection, and I'll flip it over to White for this version. The Bills could choose to keep both (and keep six cornerbacks overall), but because I have six safeties making the team, I had to choose between White and Moore.
I still would not put it past Ryan to want to keep six safeties on his final roster, although the decision will ultimately come down to general manager Doug Whaley. Anderson's roster spot could actually be safe because of his special-teams ability, which means there could be a slightly surprising cut of Duke Williams or Blanton. This will be one of the more intriguing storylines during final cuts this week.
I still have Gay making the team as the kickoff specialist after Ryan reinforced his belief last week in having one of the NFL's strongest legs at that position.
PUNTER (1): Colton Schmidt
No competition at this position makes it easy.
LONG-SNAPPER (1): Garrison Sanborn
Sanborn has snapped for the Bills since 2009, and that doesn't appear to be changing any time soon.