It's finally here.
The Buffalo Bills' first practice of training camp will be held Thursday night at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford. The team has done some shuffling to its 90-man roster in anticipation of that, so here's an updated projection on how the 53-man roster will look come Sept. 1.
Quarterbacks (3): Tyrod Taylor, T.J. Yates, Nathan Peterman
Analysis: The trade of Cardale Jones to the L.A. Chargers on Wednesday solidified the depth chart at this position. Now the only questions that remain are whether Peterman can move ahead of Yates for the No. 2 job and if the team will consider signing another veteran quarterback to compete.
Running backs/fullbacks (4): LeSean McCoy, Jonathan Williams, Mike Tolbert, Patrick DiMarco
Cuts: Cedric O'Neal, Jordan Johnson, Joe Banyard
Analysis: The opportunity will be there for O'Neal, Johnson or Banyard to steal a roster spot, particularly if they can excel on special teams. The four projected to make it look to have defined roles with McCoy the obvious starter, Williams his backup, Tolbert as the short-yardage specialist and blocker and DiMarco as a versatile fullback.
Wide receivers (6): Sammy Watkins, Zay Jones, Andre Holmes, Philly Brown, Brandon Tate, Rod Streater
Suspended: Walt Powell
Cuts: Daikiel Shorts, Jeremy Butler, Brandon Reilly, Rashad Ross, Dez Lewis
Analysis: No change from June, when I wrote the following -- Powell's suspension opens a spot for Streater, a former teammate of Holmes in Oakland. The top three of Watkins, Jones and Holmes have separated themselves from the rest, leaving eight players (not counting Powell) competing for five spots. Brown gets a spot based on his familiarity with coach Sean McDermott, although he didn't stand out in the spring. Tate's return ability also earns him a spot, although he'll get a challenge for that job from Ross. The big question here is whether veteran Anquan Boldin, who visited as a free agent Monday, signs. If he does, that would knock Streater off the 53.
Tight ends (4): Charles Clay, Nick O'Leary, Logan Thomas, Wes Saxton
Cuts: Jason Croom, Keith Towbridge
Analysis: If the team is concerned about Charles Clay's knee injury, as McDermott indicated in the spring, it makes sense to keep four here at the expense of another running back. Gary Barnidge, the veteran formerly of the Browns, is still on the market, too, so he remains a possibility.
Offensive tackles (3): Cordy Glenn, Dion Dawkins, Jordan Mills
Suspended: Seantrel Henderson
Cuts: Michael Ola, Cameron Jefferson
Analysis: Nothing to see here. This position might be the easiest on the roster to forecast as long as there are no injuries. McDermott said he expects Glenn to be 100 percent when training camp arrives, which would be a good sign after he ended minicamp with a walking boot on his left foot because of an ankle injury. Henderson has to serve five more games of a 10-game suspension, so the Bills can keep him around until the end of that.
Interior offensive linemen (5): Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Vlad Ducasse, Ryan Groy
Cuts: Karim Barton, Greg Pyke, Zach Voytek, Jordan Mudge
Analysis: Ducasse is challenging Miller for the starting job at right guard, which is a good indication his roster spot will be safe. He also has the ability to play tackle in a pinch, which makes him even more valuable. Like at tackle, there don't appear to be many hard decisions. Depth along the offensive line is a strength.
Defensive ends (4): Shaq Lawson, Jerry Hughes, Ryan Davis, Max Valles
Cuts: Ian Seau, Marquavius Lewis, Jake Metz
Analysis: The good news is, Lawson and Hughes looked good in the spring (particularly Hughes). The bad news is, depth behind them remains a major question mark. Valles lined up with the second team throughout the spring, while Davis was signed as a free agent this offseason. That gives them the advantage heading to training camp, but Seau, Lewis and/or Metz could still earn a spot with a strong camp.
Defensive tackles (4): Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus, Jerel Worthy, Adolphus Washington
Cut: Deandre Coleman, Nigel Williams
Analysis: We'll see what McDermott has to say about Washington's arrest earlier this month. That certainly did not help his push for a roster spot, but given that the Bills have kept him around this long, it seems to indicate they will at least let him compete for a job at training camp.
Linebackers (8): Lorenzo Alexander, Preston Brown, Ramon Humber, Reggie Ragland, Gerald Hodges, Tanner Vallejo, Matt Milano, Sam Barrington
Cuts: Carl Bradford, Jacob Lindsey, Eddie Yarbrough, Abner Logan
Analysis: The loser of the competition between Brown and Ragland might move to an outside linebacker position, so Barrington earns one of the final roster spots as the backup middle linebacker. Special teams will factor heavily into the decisions here, with Alexander, Humber, Vallejo and Milano all expected to contribute there.
Cornerbacks (5): Ronald Darby, Tre'Davious White, Leonard Johnson, Shareece Wright, Kevon Seymour
Cuts: Bradly Sylve, Greg Mabin, Marcus Sayles, Charles James
Analysis: Johnson taking over as the staring nickle cornerback ahead of Seymour was an interesting development in the spring. Seymour can play inside or outside, which helps his case, but he's not a roster lock by any means. He'll need a good summer. Wright, who became famous for his Chicago-to-Buffalo Uber ride, is good veteran depth. On paper, the cornerback spot looks fairly strong.
Safeties (4): Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Colt Anderson, Bacarri Rambo
Cuts: B.T. Sanders, Trae Elston, Joe Powell, Shamiel Gary
Analysis: Although he was just signed Monday, Rambo earns the fourth safety spot thanks to his previous NFL experience. Anderson will start training camp on the PUP list, so that will be an opportunity for one of the young players fighting for a spot to impress with extra playing time.
Special teams (3): Reid Ferguson, Austin Rehkow, Stephen Hauschka
Cut: Colton Schmidt
Analysis: Rehkow, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Idaho, got a lot of work as both a punter and kicker during the spring. That type of versatility is valued by McDermott. He can also handle kickoff duties, allowing Hauschka to focus on just field goals (and extra points).