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Bills Notebook: Ryan Groy wins starting center job, practice squad filled out

Two competitions were settled Monday for the Buffalo Bills.

In addition to naming Nathan Peterman the starting quarterback, coach Sean McDermott also shared that Ryan Gory will be his center. Groy spent the offseason in a competition with free-agent addition Russell Bodine for that job.

“It feels good,” Groy said after practice. I “worked really hard to get to this point. I’m not going to treat it any differently than before. You're always preparing ... as a starter.”

Groy and Bodine rotated daily with the starters during training camp and the preseason. McDermott made it clear that it was a close call between the two.

“Russell's had a good preseason as well, so we feel good about both of those young men,” the coach said.

Groy ultimately won out, though, and will be the replacement for Eric Wood on the Bills’ offensive line. That’s a job he has had before. Groy started the final seven games of the 2016 season after Wood suffered a broken leg. With Wood back last year, however, Groy was back to being a backup.

“It feels good. Again, you work really hard all through the offseason, all through camp,” he said. “It was nice to be able to stay at center and not go back and forth to different spots. I think that helped at the end of the day.”

Now that the Bills have settled on their starting five, they need better play up front. The second and third preseason games were ugly for the offensive line.

“I think that was a big wake-up call,” Groy said. “We saw what we needed to do individually to improve, and I think we're better because of it.”

The Bills filled out the final two spots on their 10-man practice squad Monday by signing offensive lineman Ruben Holcomb and defensive tackle Robert Thomas.

Holcomb, 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds, was a Division II All-American at the University of Indianapolis, where he started 44 games, including 12 at left tackle as a senior in 2017. He was an undrafted free agent signing by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who was released over the weekend during final cuts.

Thomas, 27, appeared in 23 games over the past two seasons with the New York Giants. A 6-1, 331-pounder, he has spent time on the practice squads of Seattle, New England and Miami before landing with the Giants.

The Bills might not be done tinkering with their 53-man roster just yet. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the team is scheduled to host wide receiver Breshad Perriman and defensive end Nate Orchard on free-agent visits.

Perriman, a first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2015, missed his entire rookie season due to a knee injury, then caught 43 passes for 576 yards and three touchdowns the past two years. He became expendable when the Ravens added Michael Crabtree and John Brown in free agency. Perriman had 11 catches for 135 yards and one touchdown in the Ravens’ five preseason games. According to Rapoport, he’s also scheduled to visit the Jets and Giants.

Orchard was a second-round pick out of Utah by the Browns in 2015. He had 65 tackles and five sacks with Cleveland over the past three seasons but couldn’t beat out Carl Nassib for a job this summer. Nassib was released a day later.

Orchard had a starring role in the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” which provided an inside look at his family life. After playing the Bills in Week 2 of the preseason, he said “I must be allergic to sacks,” in an episode.

Orchard made a late push for a roster spot last week in the final preseason game, intercepting Lions quarterback Matt Cassel and returning it 64 yards for a touchdown. It wasn’t enough to earn a roster spot, though.

Rapoport reported that Orchard is also scheduled to visit the Jets.

The only two players not to practice Monday were linebacker Julian Stanford (nose) and rookie wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud (left knee). The team is not required to put out an official injury report until after Wednesday’s practice, so it remains to be seen if any players will work in a limited capacity.

According to Rapoport, the Bills also put in waiver claims, unsuccessfully, for former Chiefs defensive tackle T.Y. McGill and former Raiders defensive end Mario Williams. They were claimed by the Chargers and Giants, respectively, teams that were higher on the waiver priority order than the Bills.

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