It's going to be a much different training camp for the Bills and the 31 other NFL clubs this summer. Typically, this is where we lay out what positions fans attending camp should keep their eye on for compelling position battles. Obviously, with Bills fans not attending training camp this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we explain the positions we'll be keeping tabs on for you once the Bills are back on the field.
For the second straight year Levi Wallace is going to be challenged for his starting right cornerback position. Two years ago, as a rookie, he eventually succeeded Phillip Gaines at position. Last season, he successfully held Kevin Johnson off at the start of the year for the starting role before the team instituted more of a platoon system between Wallace and Johnson.
Now Wallace will be trying to hold off veteran Josh Norman, who is looking for redemption after two down seasons in Washington. Norman has a working knowledge of the system having played in it his first four seasons in the league under Sean McDermott in Carolina. Can he rediscover a consistency of play that could unseat Wallace?
The nickel corner role held by Taron Johnson the last couple of seasons could also be up for grabs. Though Johnson is an aggressive player despite his diminutive frame, he's expected to get competition from veteran EJ Gaines, who returned to the roster as a free agent this offseason.
Siran Neal and Dean Marlowe were also schematic role players at nickel corner based on the opponent's personnel grouping. Will they be factors as well?
Scroll through to get a look at Buffalo's roster in numerical order as it currently stands. After making the playoffs in 2019, the Bills had some roster turnover with free agency and the NFL Draft prior to the 2020 season.
There are a host of veterans and some young up and coming players who will be battling for roles at the position. Outside of Jerry Hughes, no one's role is a lock.
Trent Murphy is expected to see fierce competition from the likes of free agent signee Mario Addison and rookie A.J. Epenesa for snaps at left end.
Addison's pass rush productivity the last four years is undeniable and Epenesa comes in with a ready-made edge-setting skill set against the run.
Also pushing for time on the field will be second-year end Darryl Johnson who flashed as a rookie in a rotational role. Mike Love, who was having a strong offseason before an injury forced him to miss the entire 2019 season, is also in the conversation as a speed rusher off the edge.
Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano are locks, but beyond that it's a wide-open position. Who replaces Lorenzo Alexander on the strong side in the base defense? Who fills his pass rush role, and is it even a linebacker?
A.J. Klein, who has played all three linebacker positions in this scheme in his time in Carolina, is seen a prime candidate in the base defense. Third-year linebacker Corey Thompson is also a consideration.
Where will second-year linebackers Vosean Joseph and Tyrel Dodson fit after not seeing the field at all as rookies?
And does special teams ace Tyler Matakevich make a play for a role on defense?
There are a lot of pieces to fit together at this position for sure.
Even though the Bills return all five starters from last year's offensive line, the right tackle spot was largely a platoon position between Cody Ford and Ty Nsekhe before a high ankle sprain took Nsekhe off the field in the second half of the season.
Ford appears primed to seize the job full time, but Nsekhe played well when he was in the lineup and the team finished drives with touchdowns more often with the veteran on the field.
Another factor in the equation could be free agent signee Daryl Williams. Though guard is thought to be Williams strongest position, he has a ton of experience at offensive tackle, having started on both the right and left side for Carolina in his career. Whether he's part of the competition remains to be seen.
This might be the toughest position in which to earn a roster spot this summer. Buffalo's top three appear clear cut with Stefon Diggs, John Brown and Cole Beasley filling those roles. As for spots four, five and six, it's a complete scramble.
Special teams returner Andre Roberts showed he can contribute on offense last season and Isaiah McKenzie and Robert Foster both have two accrued seasons on Buffalo's roster.
But all three are going to be pushed by the likes of 2019 upstart Duke Williams, Ray-Ray McCloud, draft choices Gabe Davis and Isaiah Hodgins and Nick Easley.
Essentially there are eight receivers battling for three spots on Buffalo's 53-man roster. It will easily be the most intense competition at camp.
Camp Countdown, presented by Connors & Ferris, will examine some of the more pressing questions facing the team on the field, and players who could make a difference as the team makes its final preparations for the 2020 regular season. We also focus on a few different areas that impact the team off the field. We'll examine these issues one at a time until training camp begins. Here now is the latest daily installment as we carefully seek some of the answers the Buffalo Bills have to come up with between July 29th and the opener on Sept. 13th.