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Camp Countdown 2020 | Who are the training camp sleepers?

Defensive end Mike Love hopes earn a roster spot after missing 2019 due injury.
Defensive end Mike Love hopes earn a roster spot after missing 2019 due injury.

Every summer there's a handful of them. The players who come into training camp as virtual unknowns, but flash enough in practice to make a name for themselves. By the time it's roster cutdown day these players are making life difficult for head coach Sean McDermott and his staff because they've either demonstrated an ability to play in the league or are well on their way.

With that in mind, here's a look at the Bills training camp sleepers for 2020.

Ryan Bates | OL – 6-4, 302

Acquired in a trade with Philadelphia last summer, Bates stepped right in and showed an ability to play any position on the offensive line. Pretty impressive for an undrafted rookie. He would go on to dress for eight games and play in three. Knowing how much the coaching staff covets position flexibility, Bates has a good chance to earn a spot on the 53-man roster this season.

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.

Isaiah Hodgins | WR – 6-3, 201

A sixth-round pick, Hodgins has a lot of receivers with NFL experience to leapfrog and earn a spot on the roster. What the rookie offers that most in the current receiving corps do not is a large catch radius, which helps quarterbacks and jump ball ability that only a couple of wideouts on the roster can match. Will it be enough to unseat a receiver with NFL playing experience?

Dane Jackson | CB – 5-11, 180

Buffalo's seventh-round pick is a feisty, physical corner who isn't afraid to support the run or get into the chest of a receiver on the jam. Much like his draft classmate, Hodgins, he's got a lot of veteran experience in front of him on the depth chart. But if he can demonstrate good cover ability on special teams and not give up big plays on defense, he could get one of the last DB spots on the roster.

Vosean Joseph | LB – 6-1, 230

After missing all of 2019 on injured reserve with a shoulder injury that required surgery, the former fifth-round pick is ready to compete for a spot. Joseph has the physical skills to run and cover, a necessity in Buffalo's scheme. The question is whether he can prove he's mastered the diagnosis skills necessary to react quickly and keep gains by the opposition to a minimum.

Mike Love | DE – 6-3, 255

A pectoral injury cost the up-and-coming pass rusher the 2019 season as he too wound up on injured reserve. But he was having a solid camp last year and has strong burst off the edge to pair with his lanky frame. Among a defensive end contingent that isn't long on pure speed, Love's explosive play could set him apart from the other contenders for a reserve roster spot.

Josh Thomas | S – 6-0, 205

The odds are admittedly long for the undrafted rookie, but his production at free safety as a junior and strong safety as a senior at Appalachian State put his position flexibility on display. He's at very deep position and there are other young talents at safety on the roster too (See: Jaquan Johnson), but Thomas is a natural born leader who always finds a way to impress.

Antonio Williams | RB – 6-0, 215

A square-shouldered back with some shiftiness, Williams just had trouble finding a regular role in college. He was undrafted due to a thin college resume, after transferring from Ohio State to North Carolina, and starting for just one year. Built low to the ground and sturdy, Williams has similar contact balance to Devin Singletary, but packs a good deal of pop in his pads. He has to impress with what few carries he's likely to get, but there's ability there.

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.

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