Bills cut RB Jonathan Williams, LB Gerald Hodges, WR Philly Brown

In a surprise move, the Buffalo Bills waived running back Jonathan Williams on Sunday.

He was one of three veterans released after the team made three waiver claims. The others released were wide receiver Philly Brown and linebacker Gerald Hodges.

The Bills claimed offensive tackle Conor McDermott (from New England), linebacker Deon Lacey (from Miami) and tight end Khari Lee (from Detroit).

"Jonathan, I thought he had a good preseason. There's a lot to like about what he did," coach Sean McDermott said Monday. "That said, we're doing what's right for this football team. I have a lot of confidence in the running backs behind LeSean [McCoy], in Mike Tolbert, Joe Banyard, Taiwan Jones. So I feel good about those guys."

McDermott added that there were no off-field issues with Williams, who thanked Buffalo in a tweet Sunday after news of his release was reported.

Williams was expected to play a significant role behind McCoy in the Bills' backfield after Mike Gillislee signed a restricted free-agent deal with the New England Patriots in the offseason.

Without Williams, the Bills are expected to use veteran Tolbert as their top option behind McCoy. Banyard's and Jones' main contributions are expected to come on special teams.

McDermott said the Bills are planning a committee approach to backup running back .

"All bring something a little bit different to the table. That's a good thing," the coach said. "Then with the element of special teams, we were able to stay balanced as a roster, for the most part, in all three phases of the game."

Williams, a fifth-round pick of the Bills in 2016, played in 11 games last season. He rushed 27 times for 94 yards and one touchdown.

Brown and Hodges both signed with the Bills this offseason.

Brown, 25, had a connection with Bills general manager Brandon Beane as both came from the Carolina Panthers' organization. He caught 79 passes for 1,019 yards and seven touchdowns with the Panthers. He might have been made expendable after the Bills acquired wide receiver Kaelin Clay on Saturday in a trade with the Panthers.

Hodges, 26, spent last season with the San Francisco 49ers, starting 12 games. He finished with 83 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two interceptions in his fourth NFL season.