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Final 53-man roster projection

Four preseason games are in the books, which means final cuts are coming.

NFL teams have until 4 p.m. Saturday to trim their rosters to 53 players, although frequently those cuts start to happen a day early.

The Buffalo Bills are scheduled to practice Friday, then will take the three-day weekend off. With final cuts looming, here is one final projection on what the Bills' roster will look like.

Quarterbacks (2): Tyrod Taylor, EJ Manuel.

Analysis: The Bills elect to dump Matt Cassel, saving more than $4 million off the salary cap in the process. That's valuable space that can be carried over to next year. Manuel's strong preseason earns him the backup job, while the team tries to sneak Matt Simms onto the practice squad as the third quarterback.

Running backs/fullbacks (5): LeSean McCoy, Boobie Dixon, Bryce Brown, Karlos Williams, Jerome Felton.

Analysis: Fred Jackson's release this week means the No. 2 job is wide open. It's presumed Williams will have the inside track on it when he's healthy enough to play following surgery. Whether that's in time for Week One remains up in the air. It's hard to imagine the Bills would have as many questions at the position as they do heading into the season, but injuries and Jackson's release make it a mystery who will get the bulk of the carries against the Colts.

Wide receivers (6): Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin, Chris Hogan, Deonte Thompson, Marcus Easley.

Analysis: Probably the toughest position to peg. I've got Marquise Goodwin on the outside looking in, simply because I don't think he can stay healthy long enough to be counted on to help the offense. Hogan didn't have a great camp by any means, but he's versatile and has special teams value. Undrafted free agent Andre Davis should land on the practice squad after a good summer.

Tight ends (4): Charles Clay, MarQueis Gray, Matthew Mulligan, Chris Gragg.

Analysis: As cool as it would be to see Jack Nicklaus at the Ralph regularly to watch his grandson, Nick O'Leary play, there wasn't much evidence that O'Leary deserves a spot. He doesn't seem to have any elite traits, and his first catch of the preseason didn't come until Thursday night.

Offensive line (8): Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Seantrel Henderson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Dalton Freeman, Cyril Richardson.

Analysis: Don't be surprised if the Bills go bargain shopping here. The depth along the line looks to be atrocious, and one injury among the starters would be a genuine concern. Kraig Urbik's abysmal performance Thursday squeezes him off the roster, with finances also playing a part in that decision. Freeman has history with coach Rex Ryan from their time together with the Jets. Richardson or whoever the eighth offensive lineman is is likely to be inactive on game days.

Defensive line (8)*: Mario Williams, Kyle Williams, Corbin Bryant, Jerry Hughes, Stefan Charles, Alex Carrington, Red Bryant,  IK Enemkpali.

Analysis: Enemkpali has taken some bad penalties during the preseason, but shown flashes of becoming a decent pass rusher.

Linebackers (6): Nigel Bradham, Preston Brown, Manny Lawson, Randell Johnson, Tony Steward, Kevin Reddick.

Analysis: AJ Tarpley is the toughest cut here. The undrafted free agent from Stanford played well against the Lions, but so did Reddick, who joined the team earlier this week off waivers from Carolina. Steward is currently out with a knee injury. Depending on its severity, he could be in jeopardy. If he makes it, he's a likely inactive early in the season.

Cornerbacks (6): Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Ronald Darby, Nickell Robey, Ron Brooks, Mario Butler.

Analysis: Brooks had a strong game against the Lions, with a pick-six and some good hits. He did take a bad pass intereference penalty, as well. Butler got burned on the Lions' first touchdown, but has been a favorite of Ryan's throughout the summer. McKelvin makes the active roster, even though he doesn't appear close to being ready to play because of an ankle injury.

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

Analysis: Ryan surprisingly said Duke Williams was "99 percent" on the team earlier this week. You wouldn't know it by when he's been in for the preseason games. I'll take the 1-percent chance he becomes a surprise cut.

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

Analysis: Ryan seems hell bent on finding a new kicker, but the thinking here is there isn't a better one than Carpenter out there, despite his struggles in the preaseason. Two of the best seasons in Bills' history should at least buy him a shot in the regular season. Schmidt has had a good summer, while Gay has done everything asked of him. Sanborn remains one of the best in the NFL at his position.

*Marcell Dareus will start the season with a one-game suspension, so he won't count against the 53-man roster. When he returns, Bryant could be in jeopardy.

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