The Buffalo Bills met the deadline today that required them to trim down the roster to the final 53 men that will suit up for them in the 2012 season.
Needless to say, there were quite a few surprises, and some were bigger than others. Then again, there always are surprises at this time of year. Some seem to be of the real head-scratching variety, so let's take a closer look at what went down today.
First off, the Bills only designated one player for injured reserve, which was rookie tackle Zerbie Sanders. Sanders will now have a year to get healthy, absorb the NFL game, learn by watching and keep building up his body to become stronger and more flexible.
Offensive Players Released
WR Derek Hagan, WR Marcus Easley, WR Naaman Roosevelt, WR Kamar Aiken, WR Ruvell Martin, OL Mark Asper, OL Keith Williams, OF David Snow, OL James Carmon, TE Kevin Brock, RB Zach Brown and RB Johnny White.
From the offense, it was a surprise to see so many wide receivers get the pink slip. The Bills use the 3-wide and 4-wide receiver sets fairly often and are remaining four WRs (Stevie Johnson, David Nelson, Donald Jones, T.J. Graham and Brad Smith) aren't exactly the Rock of Gibraltar. If one of them gets hurt, the Bills are cutting it very thin by releasing so many receivers.
The Bills wound up keeping all four quarterbacks, so the only thing I can think of is that they are momentarily holding on to Thigpen until Tarvaris Jackson is up to speed on running the offense, and then the Bills will attempt to bring one of the wide receivers back. Who knows, maybe Easley will make the practice squad, and they can promote him from there after releasing Thigpen.
I suspect the Bills will want to put Asper on the practice squad along with Easley.
Defensive Players Released
DT Dwan Edwards, LB Scott McKillop, DE Robert Eddins, DL Jarron Gilbert, DT Kellen Heard, DB Isaiah Green, S Nick Saenz and LB Tank Carder.
Of the surprises on defense, the Bills opted to keep Alex Carrington over Dwan Edwards and Kellen Heard, so that was a surprise. The Bills also opted to keep Chris White over Scott McKillop, which was another move that surprised me.
While the 53-man roster is supposedly set or final, I wouldn't bet anything that it is indeed a done deal. I think it is very conceivable that Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey won't hesitate to bring somebody in that will be viewed as a player that could raise the level of overall talent, as was the case by trading for backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson.
Out of every position group on the team, the wide receiver group seems to be the area that is begging for a change, as the list seems to be missing at least one more name. It's also possible that the Bills are using the first two weeks to get by with personnel to cover up an injury or two, with a specific plan to release a player in the near term, once certain players become healthy enough to play.
I have listed the roster moves that surprised me, so what moves surprised you?
When you think of some of the players that the Bills have already released this year, it shows how the level of talent has been improving in Buffalo. From Vince Young, Michael Jasper, Shawne Merriman, Edwards, Hagan, Roosevelt, McKillop, Heard and Carder, the Bills are trying to raise the level of the bar from the top of the roster down to the last man.
Now we have to see if all of these moves will translate into more wins.
Update - edited on 9/1/12 - It didn't take very long, but one day after being released by Buffalo, three different Bills players were claimed by other teams; Mark Asper (Minnesota), Kellen Heard (St. Louis) and Tank Carder (Cleveland). So far, the Bills haven't claimed any players from any other team.