There is just one game left before the final cuts are scheduled for August 29.buffalo billsThey have a lot of things left up in the air. You'll have a chance to see some of these nagging issues resolve themselves when the Bills take over.chicago bearsat Soldier Field on Saturday for the preseason finale.
The Bills have a handful of big roles still pending, including backup linebacker, middle linebacker and cornerback, among others. Saturday is also a chance for the last few spots on the 53-man roster to start to solidify.
With a lot at stake, here's what I'll be watching as the Bills wrap up their preseason schedule.
It does not matter thatjose allenstarting, it's all aboutKyle Allen
Coach Sean McDermott announced two days before the game that running back Josh Allen and other players would play the Bears on Saturday. Although it's an unusual approach given the way the Bills have handled the final preseason game in the past, McDermott felt the time was right to work more on them. With all due respect to Allen, the possible one or two boosts he gets are not the focus. That belongs to backup quarterback Kyle Allen, who could take the rest of the game to earn himself a backup job in 2023.due to Matt Barkley's elbow injury.
Kyle Allen went on to an uneven practice and game against him anywayIndianapolis Coltswith an excellent game against the third teamPittsburgh Steelersdefending. However, the Bills would love to see Allen excel against the Bears, as that would certainly ease any lingering concerns about his situation. But Allen's threat to the backup job doesn't end with Barkley, who didn't practice at all this week after a three-interception performance.
Account backup 2022,Caso Keenum, is in a rather unique situation withHouston Texans. Keenum signed a fully guaranteed two-year deal through 2023, though he remains third on the depth chart behind the two.CJ Stroudand Davis Mills. The Texans may want a veteran voice for their two young running backs, but if he's available, it's probably going to take a while to get him, and Keenum could spring into action with the playbook he laid out last year. Keenum's salary cap will be just $2.5 million this year, which the Bills could add. So it's all up to Allen, who will likely control his own destiny on Saturday.
Can CB47 get close to CB2?
Decision time is drawing near for many of the original competitions that have been extended into the summer. rookie guardO'Cyrus Torrencehe took a big step forward last week in Pittsburgh to win the right guard job and appears to be the clear favorite. The middle linebacker job is still up in the air, probably untilTerrell Bernardoit can come back after a tendon injury and affect the outcome. And the work of the other corner may be coming to an end. Of the three struggling to get jobs...daniel jackson,Kaiir Elamicristian benford– Benford had his strongest game in the game against the Steelers. The 2022 second-round and sixth-round pick also had an impressive week of practice before the Bears game. He performed well in group exercises with reps vs.Gabe DavisiStefon Diggs, which could lead to more high shots as long as the starters play on Saturday. When asked about Benford's summer performance, McDermott stood his ground on Thursday.
“He did some good things. He's very quiet and he doesn't say much off the field,” McDermott said. “He just goes in and does his job. ...he is prepared and has done a good job so far."
McDermott may not have wanted to praise Benford too much, who has played well recently while the job is still up in the air, but some recent actions by the Bills speak louder than those words. First, it's notable that the Bills minimized Dana Jackson's rep count in games despite being the starter and continued to give Benford and Elam tons of field time. With cost-controlled contract situations for both through 2025, it makes sense that the Bills would want one of these two to get the job. Although it was very ominous last weekend that Elam played further than Benford, with some third-string defenders, and struggled on top of that. Elam's game against Benford on Saturday will be one of the most interesting things to watch. The competition remains open for now and Jackson is still on the scene, but some recent move by Benford seems noteworthy.
How Van Demark plays at right tackle
your retirementBrandon Shell, a season-ending injuryTommy Doyleand the uneven game of the veteransDavid Quessenberrycreated a clear opportunity forRyan Van Demark. He excelled against the Steelers, playing all of their snaps at left tackle, where he spent most of his college years at UConn. But for the Bills to feel comfortable with him as their primary player, he needs to prove he's a true pick-and-roll blocker against the Bears. There were promising signs during practice this week.DEEPER DEEPER Meet Ryan Van Demark, the former girl model turned dynamic player for the Bills
Van Demark made a great pass blocking back in team drills vs.Greg Russo, where the defensive end tried to come out and beat Van Demark on the punt, only to be knocked out of the game by the offensive tackle. In a separate team exercise, Van Demark hit a lineman to free up a huge running lane for a key gain, prompting some of the coaching staff to whoop their approval. At this point, given the film Van Demark took against the Steelers, the likelihood of him being claimed off waivers has increased dramatically. HeNFLhe lacks offensive moves and anyone who shows they can play is quickly snapped up. While Van Demark still has a few things to prove, there is a positive trend for him to make the team.
Game 3 of preseason is always a time for a handful of players who can play on the 53-man roster. And every year it all comes down to a handful of players trying to make the team. Van Demark fits into that group, but here's a quick rundown of who to watch on Saturday.
WRandy isabel(n. 87)— By now everyone knows about Isabella and how her coaching staff shone. But even with all that noise, Isabella didn't get a single shot against the Steelers with Josh Allen. That could change with some snaps on Saturday ifKhalil ShakirHe does not play due to a rib injury. Isabella has to force the Bills to stick with a seventh receiver in 2023, so her appearance could be crucial to her chances.DIG DEEPER Can Andy Isabella be more than a preseason favorite for the Bills?
SZ David Quessenberry (b. 77)— Quessenberry, last year's backup swingman, is battling Van Demark for those honors this season. The Bills value Quessenberry's experience, and that, combined with a better performance against the Bears, could earn him a spot in the 53rd. His chances improved significantly after Shell's departure last week.
libraA.J. Little ones(n. 52)— While this might be odd given that Klein took first-team reps in midfield last week, there could be a direct correlation between Klein's place on the roster and Bernard's availability to start the regular season. Klein doesn't have much of a presence at this point in his career, which is important for any backup player. The team should be able to return Klein to the practice squad after final cuts, which contributes to the decision. So if Bernard comes back or the team feels goodTyrel DodsonAs a middle starter, Klein could look outside. But the Bills may have to stick with Klein if he plays lightly and better than Dodson on Saturday.
LB Baylon Spector (No. 54)-- It's been a big slide from the start of camp so far, but Spector's roster spot could be in jeopardy if the Bills feel they need to keep Klein on the 53-man roster. They probably don't want to keep more than six linemen, somatt milan, Bernard, Dodson, NovakDorian Williamsand special teams aceTyler Matakevich(fully guaranteed contract that expires in 2024) is already a strong bet to be part of the team, which leaves only one place. The good news for Spector is that he'll likely have enough court time Saturday to earn a spot, with Williams potentially sidelined with a calf injury. The special teams will also be huge.
OLIke Boettger(n. 65)– Although he has a long history with the team, his place on the 53-man roster is not guaranteed. Initial injury in the middle of the week on the left sideConnor McGovernthat will trickle down and could give Boettger more opportunities against the Bears. But an encouraging sign for Boettger is that he has been with the third-team offensive line in every preseason game. With so much at stake on the offensive line, Boettger will likely need a solid performance to stick around.
OLalec anderson(n. 70)– If you're looking for another low-key name to join the 53-man roster, Anderson is worth considering. He is a college forward who played guard and center all summer. Like Van Demark, Anderson spent the entire 2022 season on the Bills' practice squad and had some impressive moments. He lined up on the second-team offensive line ahead of Boettger. He could be abroad for now looking at the 53-man roster, so Anderson will probably have to make the squad on Saturday.
DE Kameron Cline (#96)-- Assistant coach and defensive line coach Eric Washington said Tuesday that Klein's play caught his eye in the preseason, but Washington may not be the only one. Special teams coordinator Matthew Smiley has used Cline on 21 special teams snaps over the past two games, providing other roster roles. Cline is likely to swim against the grain in a stacked defensive end team, though if the Bills trade one before the deadline, Cline could be a tricky name.
DTCortez Broughton(n. 94)– Broughton has consistently played well in his chances, but it all comes down to needing a roster spot. The team likely already maintains five defensive tackles, so Broughton will likely need an injury to make room. The lack of special teams work also hurts his chances. Still, he deserves at least a mention.
CBKyron Brown(br.32)– Brown, a midcamp addition, has performed well in limited opportunities. He almost caught a pass against the Steelers last week. He outpointed his rookie and his seventh-round pick.Alex Austin. Like Broughton, Brown probably needs an injury or a trade to make a move, but the practice squad is a possibility.
(Foto Kyle Allen: Charles LeClaire/USA Today)