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Projecting the Bills' 53-man roster

Training camp is still more than two months away, but it's never too early to take a shot at projecting what the Buffalo Bills' 53-man roster will look like when the season opener rolls around Sept. 13.

That means nearly half of the 90 players currently on the roster won't be around for that game against the Indianapolis Colts. Here is a position-by-position look at who will stay, and what the toughest cuts will be.

Quarterbacks (3): Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel, Tyrod Taylor.

Analysis: The question here is what happens if Cassel wins the starting job and the staff decides Taylor would be a better backup than Manuel. If that's the case, it's easy to see the Bills trying to trade Manuel -- or more likely, cutting him. If that happens, Jeff Tuel could earn the No. 3 quarterback job if the team wants to keep that many.

Running backs/fullback (5): LeSean McCoy, Fred Jackson, Boobie Dixon, Karlos Williams, Jerome Felton.

Analysis: McCoy is the only lock at a position that should feature great competition. If it plays out this way, Bryce Brown would be cut. That would be a bad look for General Manager Doug Whaley, who traded away a fourth-round draft pick for him. Jackson is probably safe as McCoy's backup after team owners Terry and Kim Pegula intervened on his behalf. Dixon has a history with offensive coordinator Greg Roman from their time together in San Francisco, which could help him. Williams was a fifth-round pick, so it would be a mild surprise to see the Bills cut him, unless they thought they could sneak him onto the practice squad. Felton's spot is secure as a blocking fullback.

Wide receivers (5): Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, Chris Hogan, Marcus Easley.

Analysis: There will be some tough cuts here, as the 90-man roster currently has 13 players at the position. In this scenario, the most noteworthy subtractions would be Marquise Goodwin and seventh-round draft pick Dez Lewis. Goodwin had only one catch last season and doesn't project to have much of a role on special teams with Harvin serving as the main returner. Lewis, at 6-foot-4, brings size that the Bills don't have to the position and could force the team to keep six returners if it feels like it can's get him onto the practice squad. Another noteworthy cut here would be Marcus Thigpen -- who served as the team's primary returner late last season.

Tight ends (4): Charles Clay, MarQueis Gray, Nick O'Leary, Chris Gragg.

Analysis: Roman has said he could use four tight ends on game day, and there is a pretty clear distinction between the above group and the two players who would be cut -- project Chris Manhertz and Clay Burton.

Offensive tackles (3): Cordy Glenn, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio.

Analysis: If the Bills want to keep four here, keep an eye on undrafted free agent Tyson Chandler. The N.C. State product has ideal measurements for the position.

Interior offensive linemen (5): Eric Wood, John Miller, Richie Incognito, Kraig Urbik, Cyril Richardson.

Analysis: The Bills would save some salary cap space in this scenario by cutting Chris Williams, a questionable free-agent signing by Whaley prior to the 2014 season.

Defensive ends (4): Mario Williams, Jerry Hughes, Manny Lawson, Jarius Wynn.

Analysis: Don't be a surprised if an undrafted free agent like Cedric Reed or B.J. Larsen challenges for a roster spot in training camp. The Bills didn't add any players at the position through the draft, so there will be an opportunity for them.

Defensive tackles (5): Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Stefan Charles, Corbin Bryant, Alex Carrington.

Analysis: Not much guess work here. The decision the Bills will have to make is if they want to carry this many defensive tackles over another pass rusher, for example.

Linebackers (5): Preston Brown, Nigel Bradham, Randell Johnson, Ty Powell, Tony Steward.

Analysis: Depth behind Brown and Bradham will be interesting to sort out. Johnson is largely unproven, while Powell has been mostly a special-teams contributor. Steward also projects there, but could earn a more significant role as a reserve linebacker with a good training camp. Undrafted free agent Andrew Hudson was a productive pass rusher last year at Washington. Coach Rex Ryan will give him a good look in training camp.

Safeties (4): Aaron Williams, Duke Williams, Bacarri Rambo, Jonathan Meeks.

Analysis: The Bills will depend on young players if either Williams gets hurt. Kenny Ladler will challenge Rambo and Meeks for one of those reserve jobs.

Cornerbacks (6): Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Nickell Robey, Corey Graham, Ronald Darby, Ross Cockrell.

Analysis: Ryan loves cornerbacks, and he's got a lot to choose from on this roster. The toughest cut in this scenario would be Ron Brooks. He gets beat out by Cockrell, who is a little bit bigger and younger.

Specialists (4): Garrison Sanborn, Dan Carpenter, Colton Schmidt, Jordan Gay.

Analysis: Schmidt holds off a camp challenge from Spencer Roth, while Gay again earns a roster spot as a kickoff specialist. Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman was happy with the job he did last season, and Ryan kept him on the staff. Crossman would logically want Gay back.

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