The Buffalo Bills ended their preseason on a high note by shutting out the Green Bay Packers in a 19-0 victory. The next order of business for the coaches and front office is to now work together to trim the roster to 53 players. The cutdown deadline is Tuesday, August 31 at 4:00 PM and General Manager Brandon Beane explained when and how these decisions will be made.
"We'll watch the film either tonight or first thing in the morning," Beane told Steve Tasker and Andrew Catalon during Saturday's game. "Then I'll get with Sean, the offensive side, then the defensive side, and we'll go through it. We'll talk through who did well and who didn't. Obviously, the medical report, from Nate Breske and his staff and then we'll just go through it and start paring it down."
The Bills have been very competitive throughout their training camp practices and players like Marquez Stevenson, Josh Thomas, Reggie Gilliam and Joe Giles-Harris have consistently made plays to try and prove that they deserve a spot on the team. With the amount of talent on this team, not every player will be able to make the final roster. Beane is hoping to get many of the players that were released back on the practice squad – which will be expanded to 16 players for the second consecutive season due to COVID protocols. Both Beane and McDermott know that these decisions won't be easy to make, and the Bills head coach anticipates that these next few days will be tough.
"Every year it's gotten more difficult -- those decisions are always difficult -- but when it comes to the talent on the roster, it's gotten more difficult because Brandon has done such a great job," McDermott said after the game. "You never like to see good players leave. We're going to be in that situation at some of the positions in particular where we're going to be saying farewell to some really good players. That's hard. In addition to the personal part, that's hard."
The Bills decided to rest most of their starters throughout the first two weeks of the preseason to get a better look at the younger players on the roster. The starters saw increased playing time against the Packers and coach McDermott said it was good for them to knock off some of the rust and get in a normal game-day routine. Zack Moss commented on how the offense has taken a step forward as the team shifts focus from the preseason to getting ready for the Pittsburgh Steelers in week one.
"I think just starting off super-fast, Moss said. "Last year, we started off fast a lot of games, and it's helped us as a whole team. Just continuously doing that, we didn't have a lot of slumps, just guys understanding their roles, and the positions they need to be in to do everything so that everything works well. Throughout camp, it's been really, really well, so I think we're in a good spot."
Josh Allen was a big reason why the offense started off fast against the Packers. After sitting out the first two preseason games, the Bills quarterback looked like he was in midseason form completing nine straight passes to five different receivers. Emmanuel Sanders caught three of those passes and the veteran receiver loved the opportunity to play in front of Bills Mafia for the first time and is ready for the home-opener.
"Playing in the preseason, I'm going on year 12, I was like, 'Ah, do I want to play?'" Sanders said. "But I said, yeah, I need to get out there and play because practicing and the game are two different energies. So, I'm happy I played today because now I can take what I've learned from this preseason game in terms of the up-tempo and how I need to control my breathing, just everything. I think it was good for me to play a half today going into this season."
The Bills will be off on Sunday, after the win against the Packers. McDermott will try to get his team into a regular game week schedule but with roster cuts on Tuesday, but he said it will be a little unique.
"We'll try and get 'em some rest and ramp 'em back up in the middle part of the week here for a couple good practices in pads," McDermott explained. "Then give 'em time off over the weekend per the NFL protocols and rules at that point. It should be an interesting week in a lot of ways but one that I hope that we'll handle the right way."