Rex Ryan called Tuesday’s league-wide 75-man roster cutdown one of the most difficult days to be a coach. In the locker room after practice, you got a sense of what he meant. Players on the roster bubble tried to keep things light, but the air was tense.
In the end nine players had their 2016 stint with the Bills come to an end, as LB David Hawthorne, LS Reid Ferguson, C Robert Kugler, WR Greg Little, TE Jimmay Mundine, LB Eric Striker, DT Alameda Ta’amu, QB Austin Trainor and DT Justin Zimmer were all released in order to reduce the roster from 90 to 75.
Most names on the list didn’t come as much of a surprise, after many of them had faded into the background throughout the preseason. Others, such as Little, were more eye-opening. In a heated position battle at wide receiver, Little stood out early on in camp but lost his grip – literally – as dropped passes started to catch up with him. Still, it appeared the 27-year-old had done enough to at least survive this first round of cuts and fight for a spot on the 53-man roster in Detroit on Thursday. Apparently not.
The other somewhat surprising cut was QB Austin Trainor, who the Bills had just signed on Sunday as an insurance signal caller for Thursday’s final preseason game. With Cardale Jones feeling better and back on the practice field after taking care of a personal matter, Buffalo must be confident in his ability to play against the Lions.
Those releases weren’t quite enough to get the Bills down to 75 players, so several designations were required to complete the roster cutdown. Most notable of the group were Buffalo’s top two draft picks DE Shaq Lawson and LB Reggie Ragland. They were placed on the Reserve/PUP list and injured reserve respectfully.
For Ragland his season is officially over, but Lawson, who has been slowly working his way back from shoulder surgery this spring, can return to the team during the regular season after sitting out for six weeks. At that time the Bills will have 21 days to either activate Lawson to their 53-man roster or put him on season-ending injured reserve, if he fails to perform. Veteran wideout Marcus Easley joined Lawson on the PUP list as well.
A fellow draftee to Lawson and Ragland’s, WR Kolby Listenbee, was moved to the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list, which follows the same guidelines as the Reserve/PUP designation. Listenbee can return to the team following Week 6.
Additionally the Bills designated CB Jonathan Dowling (knee), T Justin Renfrow and TE Chris Gragg (knee) to the waived/injured list, which essentially means they must clear waivers before being transferred to the Bills injured reserve list.
By 4 p.m. Sept. 3rd, the Bills will have to shave their roster down again, this time to the regular season standard 53-man version.
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