The Buffalo Bills filled one of the two available spots on their active roster and started putting together their practice squad with a flurry of transactions Sunday.
After final cuts Saturday, the team had just seven offensive linemen, so depth was needed there. It came Sunday in the form of center Gabe Ikard, who joins the Bills after being claimed off waivers from the Tennessee Titans. Ikard, 25, is a 6-foot-4, 304-pounder who played at Oklahoma, starting 50 games for the Sooners.
He entered the NFL in 2014 as an undrafted free agent and spent all of last season on injured reserve after tearing an ACL late in the preseason.
Ikard’s signing brings the Bills up to 52 players on the active roster, meaning there is still room for one more. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus won’t count as part of the 53-man roster until next week after his one-game suspension is served.
Additionally, the Bills started filling out their 10-man practice squad with five confirmed signings. Those players on the taxi squad are:
• Safety Jonathan Meeks. The 25-year-old missed all of last season with a knee injury. He appeared in eight games as a rookie in 2013. Meeks was beaten out by Duke Williams and Bacarri Rambo for the reserve safety jobs behind starters Aaron Williams and Corey Graham.
• Guard Cyril Richardson. The 6-5, 343-pounder played in 12 games with four starts as a rookie last season. He was beaten out by Kraig Urbik for the reserve interior offensive line job at final cuts.
• Wide receiver Dez Lewis. Buffalo’s seventh-round draft pick in this year’s draft, Lewis had a slow start to training camp, but got better as the summer progressed. He played a strong game in Thursday’s preseason finale against Detroit, making six catches for 81 yards.
• Running back Cierre Wood. The Notre Dame product joined the Bills on Aug. 19 after a rash of injuries at running back. In three preseason games, he carried 17 times for 64 yards and had four catches for 46 yards.
• Linebacker Kevin Reddick. Bills coach Rex Ryan was impressed by Reddick against the Lions. Claimed off waivers last week from Carolina, the 6-1, 240-pounder played all 57 defensive snaps against Detroit just two days after joining the Bills.
Additionally, a league source confirmed to The Buffalo News on Sunday that the Bills plan to sign defensive back Jaylen Watkins to the practice squad. Watkins is the older half-brother of Bills receiver Sammy Watkins.
Jaylen Watkins was a fourth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014. He played in four games and made three tackles and one pass defended as a rookie. He was cut by the Eagles on Saturday.
Watkins can play both cornerback and safety, although he spent most of his time at corner with the Eagles. Watkins played at Florida. He has a good combination of size (5-11, 194 pounds) and speed (4.41-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine).
The Bills also are expected to add offensive lineman Chris Martin to their practice squad. Martin’s agent, Brett Tesler, announced Martin’s signing via his Twitter page.
Martin, 25, is a 6-foot-5, 305- pounder who played at Central Florida. He has had three different stints with the New England Patriots, who signed him as an undrafted free agent last year. Martin spent time on the Patriots’ practice squad last season on two occasions. He ended last year on the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad.
He was with the Miami Dolphins during training camp this summer before the Patriots claimed him off waivers.
The signings of Watkins and Martin had not been officially confirmed by the Bills as of Sunday night. If they do join the taxi squad, the team will have three openings available.
It was thought that one of those spots could go to quarterback Matt Simms, who was released Friday. As it stands now, however, that won’t be possible. NFL rules state that a team can’t have more than two players on the practice squad who have spent at least nine games on an active roster is a previous season. Richardson appeared in 12 games last season for the Bills, while Reddick played in 16 games as a rookie in 2013 with New Orleans.
Elsewhere, former Canisius basketball player Chris Manhertz wasn’t able to successfully make the transition to football with the Bills, but he’s getting another shot with the New Orleans Saints.
Manhertz was cut by the Saints on Saturday, but is set to remain with the team on the practice squad. Manhertz posted a photo on Instagram on Sunday the following caption “IT ALWAYS WORKS OUT. I thank God for what he has done and going to do on this incredible journey! Exited and truly blessed to officially be part of the @saints family and #WhoDatNation!”
Manhertz, 23, is a 6-foot-6, 255- pounder. He was a three-time captain for the Canisius basketball team from 2010-14, starting 96 of 98 career games. He originally signed with the Bills at the end of the 2014 season, going through spring practices and the start of training camp with the team before being released.