Week three of the preseason is often known as the “final dress rehearsal,” for teams, but for the Bills that rehearsal excluded many key starters – a smart move on Rex Ryan’s part – and turned out to be a miserable night of football overall, as the Redskins downed the Bills 21-16. The positives: Dan Carpenter nailed all three of his FG attempts, including two from 52 yards, rookie running back Jonathan Williams looked very effective (until he left the game with a rib injury), EJ Manuel proved he’s a formidable backup (he finished 21-of-39 passing, with 221 yards and a last second prayer of an interception), and for the second time this preseason the Bills showed some fight, trailing late in the fourth quarter.

The negatives: penalties continue to be an issue (Buffalo picked up 13 of them for 104 yards), several more players were stuck by the injury bug, no one could catch the ball and Ed Hochuli’s referee crew made an already tough to watch preseason game, feel like we were watching paint drying.

Nonetheless that abysmal showing is behind us and one thing it definitely did was provide some clarity as to who won’t survive the first set of roster cuts on Tuesday, when the Bills must get down to 75 men. Buffalo’s final preseason game against the Lions on Thursday will serve as a crucial, final opportunity for any bubble 53-man roster players.

Based on everything we’ve seen thus far, here’s who I believe makes the 75-man roster:

Quarterback (4):

3 – EJ Manuel

5 – Tyrod Taylor

7 – Cardale Jones

9 – Austin Trainor

No surprise here. The first three guys have a role on not only the 75-man roster, but the 53-man roster as well. As for Trainor he was signed just this week to get the Bills through the fourth preseason game, so there’s no reason to think he won’t make the cut.

Full back (2):

42 – Jerome Felton

48 – Glenn Gronkowski

Rex Ryan had high praises for both Felton and Gronkowski last Tuesday and even said he could see a scenario where both make the 53-man roster. Gronkowski in particular helped his cause in a big way on Friday night, throwing a key block on Jonathan Williams’ 37-yard TD run, and several other nice blocks throughout the night. Have to imagine they both survive this round of cuts, and possibly Saturday’s as well.

Running Back (5):

22 – Reggie Bush

25 – LeSean McCoy

35 – Mike Gillislee

40 – Jonathan Williams

47 – Boom Herron

As much as everyone would love to see James Wilder Jr. make this team, I wouldn’t be surprised to see his run with the Bills come to an end here. Buffalo feel very comfortable with their running back situation ahead of him, and Boom Herron bought himself another week by hauling in five receptions for 49 yards and adding 19 yards on the ground against Washington. Even that won’t be enough for him to make the 53-man roster, but the Bills could use him in that fourth preseason game.

Wide Receiver (8):

10 – Robert Woods

11 – Greg Salas

13 – Dez Lewis

14 – Sammy Watkins

15 – Greg Little

17 – Jarrett Boykin

19 – Walter Powell

88 – Marquise Goodwin

Dez Lewis probably sealed his own fate Friday night with a miserable outing and yet he remains in good enough standing with the coaching staff to at least survive this round of cuts. He has one last chance to make the 53-man roster in Detroit. Greg Little is living up to his reputation as a pass dropper and I think it’s fair to say Walter Powell has jumped ahead of him at this point. Powell has been one of the biggest surprises of camp and definitely deserves to make this team. He’s currently second in the NFL in receiving yards this preseason. The only wideout that doesn’t survive Tuesday’s cuts is Kain Colter, as Jarrett Boykin gets one last chance to maybe surpass Little as well.

Tight End (4):

82 – Jim Dray

84 – Nick O’Leary

85 – Charles Clay

86 – Blake Annen

Chris Gragg’s is done for the season with a torn ACL, leaving a massive hole at TE No. 2. During Friday’s game and before the Gragg injury I would have said O’Leary was all but gone after his fumble, but with the Bills in a bit of a predicament he stays. Plus Ryan downplayed the mistake afterward. Annen and Dray (probably the best blocker of the group) will get to use the fourth preseason game as their final tryout to make this team. As for Jimmay Mundine, he’s done nothing to standout and his time is up.

Center (2):

61 – Fernando Velasco

70 – Eric Wood

The Bills would love to keep Velasco around, but depending on the success of Henderson the rest of the way either Velasco or Groy could miss out on making the regular season roster. For now Velasco is safe and he’ll probably get the entirety of the fourth preseason game to himself, at center. Robert Kluger’s days as a Bill are over though.

Guard (4):

64 – Richie Incognito

68 – Cyril Richardson

72 – Ryan Groy

76 – John Miller

Cyril Richardson had his best performance of the preseason on Friday, while Ryan Groy had his worst. The coaches will want to see more from both guys in the final preseason game on Thursday, so they’re in for now. Jamison Lalk will likely be the only player released out of this group, for now.

Tackle (6):

62 – Chris Martin

66 – Seantrel Henderson

71 – Cyrus Kouandjio

75 – Justin Renfrow

77 – Cordy Glenn

79- Jordan Mills

There’s been some reassurance at the tackle position with strong returns from both Cyrus Kouandjio and Seantrel Henderson. In Washington Henderson looked rusty early, then settled in comfortably to his normal post at right tackle as the game went on. With Henderson sitting out the last two days of practice his status for Thursday remains unclear, meaning the Bills want to weigh their options a little longer. Marquis Lucas is the only tackle released for now.

Defensive Lineman (8):

63 – Justin Zimmer

74 – Leger Douzable

92 – Adolphus Washington

93 – Lavar Edwards

94 – Jerel Worthy

95 – Kyle Williams

97 – Corbin Bryant

99 – Marcell Dareus

With Marcell Dareus suspended for the first four weeks of the season there is an intriguing opportunity that may allow a sixth defensive lineman to make the 53-man roster. Corbin Bryant, Kyle Williams, Adolphus Washington and Jerel Worthy are surely locks. I think Lavar Edwards will make it as well, so that leaves Justin Zimmer and Leger Douzable to fight it out for the final spot in the Detroit game. In the meantime Alameda Ta’amu and Brandon Deaderick are cut today.

Linebacker (11):

43 – Kroy Biermann (DE/OLB)

49 – Bryson Albright

50 – Eric Striker

51 – Brandon Spikes

52 – Preston Brown

53 – Zach Brown

55 – Jerry Hughes (DE/OLB)

56 – David Hawthorne

57 – Lorenzo Alexander

58 – Randell Johnson

91 – Manny Lawson

Once the Bills cut the roster down to 75 they can then, safely place Reggie Ragland on the IR, without needing the rookie LB to clear waivers. Regardless, with so many injuries at linebacker, keeping more of them around for the final preseason game can’t hurt. Only Jamari Lattimore and Max Valles bite the dust for now.

Cornerback (8):

21 – Nickell Robey-Coleman

24 – Stephon Gilmore

28 – Ronald Darby

30 – Corey White

39 – Mario Butler

41 – Sterling Moore

44 – Sammy Seamster

45 – Kevon Seymour

Sterling Moore was pretty pathetic against the Redskins, but he’s had a generally strong preseason and camp so he survives. Sammy Seamster could be gone today, but with some recent injuries at the cornerback position I think Buffalo keeps him around for at least the fourth preseason game.

Safeties (6):

20 – Corey Graham

23 – Aaron Williams

26 – Robert Blanton

27 – Duke Williams

33 – Colt Anderson

36- Jonathan Meeks

Corey Graham and Aaron Williams (once healthy) are your clear cut starters of the group, while Duke Williams has emerged as the next man up behind them. Colt Anderson should make the 53-man roster strictly for his special teams abilities, so that leaves Robert Blanton and Jonthan Meeks. Blanton appears to have a slight edge over Meeks, considering he started alongside Duke Williams on Friday. One thing Ryan talked about today was that he’s never held onto six safeties for the regular season roster, but that it could be a possibility in 2016.

Punter (1):

6 – Colton Schmidt

Long-snapper (1):

65 – Garrison Sanborn

Reid Ferguson has been getting some opportunities as a long snapper throughout the preseason but Sanborn is as consistent as they come. He’s got this job locked up.

Kicker (2):

2 – Dan Carpenter

4 – Jordan Gay

Last Tuesday, following the team’s final practice of training camp, Ryan eluded to a situation that would require Dan Carpenter to handle both field goals and kickoffs. Since then he’s said they’ll make a decision on whether or not to keep both Carpenter and Gay after the fourth preseason game, pretty much guaranteeing they’ll both survive the first wave of cuts, today.

Active/PUP list:

81 – Marcus Easley

90 – Shaq Lawson

Active/Non-football injury list:

18 – Kobly Listenbee


31 – Jonathan Dowling

59 – Reggie Ragland

75 – IK Enemkpali

89 – Chris Gragg


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