The Bills began the process of reducing their roster to the required 53 with 16 player releases Friday. They also placed CB Leodis McKelvin on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list and WR Deonte Thompson was waived-injured.
McKelvin's new designation (he had been on Active/PUP) means that he no longer counts toward a roster spot. The earliest he could return to the active roster would be the Tuesday after Week 6 (Oct. 13).
"That's disappointing. There's no question that's disappointing," said head coach Rex Ryan.
"He's a proven player. He's an outstanding returner and an outstanding corner. I love his passion that he plays with, but we'll definitely miss that."
The veteran cornerback suffered a setback this summer in his rehabilitation from ankle surgery after breaking it in a Week 11 game last season at Miami. He spent most of training camp with his ankle in a cast.
He's been out of that cast for two weeks, but has still spent a good deal of time with his right foot in an immobilizer boot. Though McKelvin has been recently cleared to ride a stationary bike without the boot on it became clear that he was not going to be ready for the regular season opener. The Reserve/NFI designation gives him time to fully recover and get into game shape.
After Week 6, McKelvin would be able to begin practicing with the team again. The team would not have to add him to the active roster right away. He could practice with the team for a period of 21 days before the Bills would have to make the decision to add him to the active roster or put him on season-ending injured reserve.
The loss of McKelvin for the first six weeks will put the spotlight squarely on Bills top pick Ronald Darby. Darby has started all four preseason games and has learned a few hard lessons, but head coach believes in him completely as a player.
"I'm confident that he'll do a good job for us," said Ryan of Darby. "I've been confident in training camp and everything else."
Buffalo faces two of the most prolific passers in the league the first two weeks of the season in Andrew Luck and Tom Brady, who combined for 77 touchdown passes last year. Indianapolis was the number one passing team in the NFL in 2014, so Darby will be tested early and often.
Among the more notable players released by the Bills Friday were former fifth-round pick Cyril Richardson, DE IK Enemkpali and QB Matt Simms. The 16 player releases and McKelvin and Thompson designations means Buffalo's roster currently stands at 57, so there will need to be four more releases to get to the necessary figure of 53 by 4 pm Saturday.
Here is the list of player releases.
OL William Campbell
FB John Conner
WR Andre Davis
DE IK Enemkpali
DT Andre Fluellen
LB Quentin Groves
RB Bronson Hill
OL Darryl Johnson
OL Alex Kupper
DE B.J. Larsen
WR Dezmin Lewis
CB Merrill Noel
WR Tobais Palmer
G Cyril Richardson
QB Matt Simms
RB Cierre Wood