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Big question for every position as Bills head to training camp

With the Buffalo Bills set to begin training camp next week at St. John Fisher College, here is the current state of the roster at each position along with the big question.

QUARTERBACKS

Returnees: Josh Allen, Matt Barkley.

Newcomer: Tyree Jackson (undrafted).

Departure: Derek Anderson (retirement).

The big question: The most significant difference from last year's training camp is that Allen is the clear-cut starter from the beginning and will receive the majority of snaps. How much better can he be?

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RUNNING BACKS

Returnees: LeSean McCoy, Marcus Murphy, Patrick DiMarco (fullback).

Newcomers: Frank Gore (Dolphins), T.J. Yeldon (Jaguars), Senorise Perry (Dolphins), Devin Singletary (draft, third round).

Departures: Chris Ivory (free agent), Keith Ford (free agent).

The big question: The Bills are betting big on a return to form for McCoy, who will be 31 at the start of the season. Keeping him around isn’t cheap – he’ll cost $9 million against the salary cap and the team could save more than $6 million by cutting or trading him. For that type of money, much more has to be expected from McCoy. What can he bring?

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WIDE RECEIVERS

Returnees: Zay Jones, Robert Foster, Ray-Ray McCloud, Isaiah McKenzie, Victor Bolden, Da’Mari Scott, Cam Phillips.

Newcomers: John Brown (Baltimore), Cole Beasley (Dallas), Andre Roberts (N.Y. Jets), Duke Williams (CFL), David Sills (undrafted), Nick Easley (undrafted).

Departure: Deonte Thompson (signed with Jets).

The big question: Brown, Beasley, Jones and Foster look like locks as the top four, and Roberts is virtually assured of making the team as the lead return man. How much progress can they make in the preseason to get in sync with Allen, given the injuries that kept many of them off the field in the spring?

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TIGHT ENDS

Returnees: Jason Croom, Keith Towbridge (practice squad member).

Newcomers: Lee Smith (Raiders), Tyler Kroft (Bengals), Dawson Knox (draft, third round), Tommy Sweeney (draft, seventh round), Nate Becker (undrafted free agent).

Departures: Charles Clay (Cardinals), Logan Thomas (Cardinals), Khari Lee (free agent).

The big question: The Bills didn’t have a player in the top 35 in receiving yardage among tight ends in 2018 – Croom was No. 36 with 259 yards. The team only had one touchdown from a tight end. That’s atrocious production. What is the prognosis for Kroft's recovery from a spring foot injury and how quickly can Knox become NFL ready if called upon?

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OFFENSIVE LINE

Returnees: Dion Dawkins, Wyatt Teller, Vlad Ducasse, Russell Bodine, Ike Boettger, Conor McDermott, Jeremiah Sirles, De’Ondre Wesley

Newcomers: Mitch Morse (Chiefs), Cody Ford (draft, second round), Quinton Spain (Titans), Ty Nsekhe (Redskins), Spencer Long (Jets), Jon Feliciano (Raiders), LaAdrian Waddle (Patriots), Garrett McGhin (undrafted)

Departures: Jordan Mills (Dolphins), John Miller (Bengals), Ryan Groy (Saints)

The big question: Morse is the lone lock to start, but who else will make up the starting five and how long will it take for this unit to come together?

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DEFENSIVE LINE

Returnees: Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, Shaq Lawson, Star Lotulelei, Harrison Phillips, Jordan Phillips, Eddie Yarbrough, Mike Love, Kyle Peko, Robert Thomas

Newcomers: Ed Oliver (draft, first round), Darryl Johnson (draft, seventh round), Eli Harold (Lions), L.T. Walton (Steelers)

Departures: Kyle Williams (retired)

The big question: Oliver hasn’t officially earned a starting job, but that’s a formality. He alone won't be able to – nor is expected to – replace Kyle Williams. How did the Bills plan on doing that and what will the rotation look like?

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LINEBACKERS

Returnees: Lorenzo Alexander, Tremaine Edmunds, Deon Lacey, Matt Milano, Julian Stanford, Corey Thompson.

Newcomers: Maurice Alexander (Seahawks), Tyrel Dodson (undrafted), Juwan Foggie (undrafted), Vosean Joseph (draft, fifth round).

Departures: None.

The big question: As with quarterback Josh Allen, there will be considerable attention to see how much progress Edmunds, the Bills’ other first-round choice last year, has made entering his second NFL season. The team put a lot on his plate as a rookie. Can he continue to develop?

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DEFENSIVE BACKS

Returnees: Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace, Taron Johnson, Rafael Bush, Ryan Lewis, Lafayette Pitts, Dean Marlowe, Siran Neal, Denzel Rice.

Newcomers: Kevin Johnson (Texans), E.J. Gaines (Browns), Jaquan Johnson (draft, sixth round), Cam Lewis (undrafted).

Departures: None.

The big question: Can second-year man Levi Wallace withstand the challenges from Kevin Johnson and Gaines and hold onto the starting outside cornerback job opposite White?

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SPECIAL TEAMS

Returnees: Corey Bojorquez, Cory Carter, Reid Ferguson, Stephen Hauschka, Ray-Ray McCloud, Isaiah McKenzie, Marcus Murphy.

Newcomers: Chase McLaughlin, Andre Roberts.

Departures: None.

The big question: New coach Heath Farwell has his work cut out for him, because the Bills can't be much worse here. Roberts seems to solve the issue in the return game, but who will be the punter, and can Hauschka again be the lock that he was in his first season in Buffalo?

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Contributing: Vic Carucci, Mark Gaughan, Jay Skurski, Jason Wolf

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