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Players react to making the 53-man roster + practice notes

DE Kingsley Jonathan at Buffalo Bills Training Camp at One Bills Drive, August 22, 2023.
DE Kingsley Jonathan at Buffalo Bills Training Camp at One Bills Drive, August 22, 2023.

The Bills finalized their initial 53-man roster Tuesday afternoon as the preseason officially comes to an end. With next week being the first game week of the regular season, players are excited to prepare for their primetime matchup against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.

"That's what we build up to. Approaching it one game at a time, but that's the ultimate goal [of preseason], to get to a position where you feel good going into game one," said defensive end Kingsley Jonathan.

The Bills signed Jonathan as an undrafted free agent in 2022, but ultimately waived him this time last year. Jonathan played five games for the Chicago Bears before getting released in November, only to join the Bills’ practice squad.

"Blessed to be in this position to be able to show what I can do," Jonathan said. "Moving on, it's just taking it one day at a time, one play at a time, one meeting at a time, one session at a time, taking advantage of everything I get."

With Von Miller officially placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start the season, the defensive line will be without one of their best players. The veteran pass rusher is still making his presence felt in the meeting room and on the practice field.

"It's just great to have him supporting us and still teaching us while he can't go full speed yet, but looking forward to him getting back," Jonathan said.

Take a look at photos from the first Buffalo Bills regular season practice of the 2023 NFL Season at One Bills Drive.

While Miller might be out for the first four weeks of the season, the defense got a major boost today with the return of linebacker Terrel Bernard. Bernard had missed multiple weeks of practice with a hamstring injury.

"Really just thankful to be here," Bernard said after practice. "It was definitely tough just not being able to go out there and practice and compete and play in the games and stuff, but doing everything that I can mentally to keep myself prepares so whenever I'm back out there, I put my best foot forward."

Bernard said that he spent time studying the playbook and watching film, but admitted nothing beats the chance to compete in practice.

Scroll through to meet the 2023 Buffalo Bills!

On the other side of the ball, a group of young offensive linemen were happy to officially make the 53-man roster.

"I called [my mom and dad] and merged them together and told them that I made it," said offensive tackle Alec Anderson, who the Bills signed as an undrafted free agent in 2022. "Another dream come true and just another goal."

Second-round pick O'Cyrus Torrence said he was glad to have Anderson and Ryan Van Demark to help guide him through his rookie preseason.

"It's pretty special because these two guys are really the ones that I kind of met first when I got here," Torrence said. "They were already on the team in OTAs so they kind of showed me the ropes a little bit like that and kind of took me under their wing a little bit and showed me how coach wants certain things done."

Ryan Van Demark made sure to stay off his phone during the hours leading up to the 4 p.m. EDT roster finalization deadline.

"The day's going to go on whether you make it or not so just not really checking the phone, just taking it as it is," Van Demark said. "And then just hoping, calling your parents and keeping in touch with the people who matter the most to you."

With the dramatics of cut down day in the rearview mirror, the Bills returned to practice Wednesday morning. In addition to Bernard, right guard Connor McGovern (knee) and receiver Khalil Shakir (ribs) also returned to practice. Linebacker Baylon Spector and wide receiver Justin Shorter, who both are dealing with hamstring injuries, did not participate.

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