Camp Countdown - 16 - Who are the training camp sleepers?

Posted Jul 13, 2016

There are a few every year. Under the radar players who step up and surprise everyone in training camp and the preseason and land a roster spot as a result. Here's a look at some prime candidates to make such a move at Bills training camp.

Every training camp there are a couple of players who step out of the shadow of more heralded or recognizable players and outperform them. Sometimes it’s good enough to seize a role on the 53-man roster from another player that may have been seen as a lock. Below we present some of the most viable sleeper candidates who could surprise at St. John Fisher this summer.

Blake Annen
The tight end offers athleticism on par with Charles Clay. Slightly taller and longer than Clay, Annen demonstrated impressive speed for a player his size (6-4, 247) and sure hands. The coaches took notice as well as he was getting consistent reps with the first team offense in the spring practices. With a firm working knowledge of the offense after serving on the practice squad late last season, Annen could land a coveted roster spot at tight end if his play from the spring carries through training camp.

Robert Blanton
The starting roles look pretty locked up at safety with Corey Graham and Aaron Williams, but Blanton will be pushing to land the third safety role. Rex Ryan does have some three safety packages, and should injury strike, Blanton wants to be the first off the bench.

The free agent signee appeared to be a quick study and was big on pre-snap communication with his defensive teammates. A strong training camp could see him leap frog young veterans like Jonathan Meeks and Duke Williams.

Leonard Hankerson
He is quiet and unassuming, but there’s a lot of savvy to Hankerson’s game. The long and lanky receiver knows how to use his body to create separation and it’s clear he’s established a rapport with Tyrod Taylor through the course of the offseason work. He’s got a lot of competition, but Hankerson also has a lot of experience. If he can make effective use of it, there could be a third or fourth receiver role available to him.

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Kolby Listenbee
Slowed by double sports hernia surgery in the spring, Listenbee was never a full participant during OTAs and minicamp. That will change in training camp when he’s expected to be full go and full go for Listenbee is difficult for anyone to handle. One of the fastest players in the draft class, Listenbee’s game looks like a good fit for a Greg Roman offense that was one of the best in the NFL when it came to the long ball. If he can effectively stretch the field in camp and the preseason he could be pushing more experienced wideouts off the roster.

Jonathan Williams
The fifth-round pick took advantage of first team reps with LeSean McCoy slowed by a spring ankle injury and Karlos Williams battling weight problems. The rookie back didn’t look out of place running the ball against Buffalo’s starting defense in OTAs and minicamp. Knowing that McCoy will be far from overworked in camp and Karlos Williams will likely still have some weight to lose, Jonathan Williams could have the opportunity to land the backup running back role.

Jerel Worthy
A defined role on a defensive line is something that Worthy has been after since his rookie year in 2012. Capable of playing end and tackle in Ryan’s traditional 3-4 scheme, Worthy saw time with the starting unit in the spring and with a strong camp could land a regular rotational role on Buffalo’s defensive line alongside the likes of Corbin Bryant.