2022 Training Camp

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Bills view preseason finale as "very important" for roster competition 

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Sean McDermott, Von Miller (40), Josh Allen (17). Buffalo Bills Training Camp at One Bills Drive, August 24, 2022. Photo by Ben Green

Even though many of the Buffalo Bills starters are not expected to suit up for Friday's preseason finale against Carolina, there's still plenty of importance to the game.

It's a great opportunity for players battling for a spot on the roster to show what they can do before the roster cutdown, and it also provides one more look for GM Brandon Beane, head coach Sean McDermott and other coaches to consider when making decisions.

Here's what Friday's game means to different members of the Bills organization.

GM Brandon Beane

This is the last chance Beane, McDermott and the rest of the coaching staff, can get a look at the players in a game setting before the final cuts are made down to the 53-man roster.

After the first two preseason games, Beane met with McDermott, the position coaches, and coordinators to discuss what they've seen in each game. The same will happen after Friday's game.

"We talk to the position coach, he may rank (players) like this," Beane said. "You talk to the coordinator it may be slightly different. Sean's maybe a little different than mine. That shows you how close some of these battles are."

At this point in the preseason, the staff is starting to feel comfortable with the looming roster decision but there are still spots to be sorted out, making Friday's game that much more meaningful.

"I could tell you we're in the 50, whether it's 58, 50, we're in the 50s," Beane said. "It's coming down truly to this week of practice and also one more final test, and then we've got to make some decisions."

Head coach Sean McDermott

As the page flipped from last week's game against the Denver Broncos to the Panthers game this week, McDermott's message to the guys who will likely get a lot of playing time on Friday is to just go for it and keep pushing.

"You've already played a play in the NFL, which is a lot of people's dreams, and you've accomplished that, and (others) haven't," McDermott said. "You've been a success and that'll continue. It's easy to kind of count numbers this time of year and think, 'Hey the script has already been written,' when really all it takes is one team."

Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier

As someone who's been involved in roster cuts as a player and now on the coaching side of the ball, OC Ken Dorsey knows how important the last preseason game is for the guys who are still fighting for one of the last few open spots. To allows these players to prove themselves on the field, Dorsey takes the mindset where he doesn't overlook these games as a coordinator.

"I want to try to put these guys in the best situation possible because I've been in those situations before, playing in the fourth quarter of the fourth preseason game," Dorsey said. "That means a little something to me, too, to make sure these guys have every opportunity one to show us, but two, to show the league, their families, and everybody else who's watching what they're able to do."

From DC coordinator Leslie Frazier's perspective, he's seen a lot of progress from players who are aware of what's on the line in the coming days throughout training camp. Their hard work is not going unnoticed, and Friday is another opportunity for them to show that.

"Hopefully we can just continue to make progress as we are looking forward to this final preseason game and getting the chance to evaluate some young players and veteran players who are fighting for roster spots," Frazier said. "Very important week. Very important game for a lot of guys."

The players

For players who aren't 100% certain of what the future holds, their performance on Friday night is crucial. Wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins feels that the more experience he can get in playing time or practice reps is going to help him out in the long run, and he hopes to take advantage of that in Carolina.

"It's always going to help people out like me, who are kind of last guys trying make this roster and guys who you know are fighting for playing time," Hodgins said.

While Hodgins is aware of what the Panthers game means, he's trying to not wrap himself up too much into that so it doesn't mentally or physically throw off his game.

"I'm just going into this game just with a clear mindset of just playing this game like it's my last game, going all out, and letting the numbers and roster spots speak for it after," Hodgins said.

As a former undrafted free agent who had to battle for a roster spot, linebacker Tyrel Dodson knows the emotions of what this last preseason game can feel like. Dodson's advice to these guys is to maximize the opportunity that's at hand.

"Of course, you're going to be nervous, but you can never be scared because throughout practice and stuff it's going to show that you're ready," Dodson said. "I talked to a lot of undrafted guys, and I think every undrafted guy can play somewhere. I'm excited to see all those guys ball out."

Entering his third season with the Bills, Dodson has become a leader for the young guys, especially in the area of special teams.

"If I see a guy nervous, or I see a guy making a couple of mistakes here and there, I like to come up and give them words of encouragement or they get to come to me after practice," Dodson said. "I feel like I'm one of the special teams' captains now and they just come to me and ask me questions."

Scroll to see photos from the last 2022 Training Camp practice prior to the Preseason Week 3 game against the Carolina Panthers.

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