The Buffalo Bills on Friday erred on the side of caution at the quarterback position, decided "none of the above" was the answer to their fringe receiver question, and made room for kickoff specialist John Potter on the 53-man roster.
Quarterback Tyler Thigpen remains on the roster today, since the Bills apparently do not want to face the New York Jets on Sept. 9 with newly acquired Tarvaris Jackson, who barely knows any plays, as the only healthy option behind starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Thigpen helped his cause by directing three scoring drives in the exhibition finale in Detroit Thursday.
The Bills kept only four wide receivers on the team, plus quarterback-receiver Brad Smith, who has a groin injury. That meant wideouts Derek Hagan, Naaman Roosevelt, Ruvell Martin, Marcus Easley and Kamar Aiken all were released.
And Potter, the seventh-round draft choice, made the squad after booting 11 of 13 preseason kickoffs through the end zone.
The biggest name axed by the Bills was defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, who was beaten out by Alex Carrington and whose release saves the Bills $3.65 million in base salary he was scheduled to make.
Besides Carrington, players perceived to be "on the bubble" who survived Friday were: tight end Dorin Dickerson, tackle Sam Young, defensive end Kyle Moore, linebackers Chris White and Kirk Morrison and safety Delano Howell.
In all, 21 players were released. Besides the five receivers and Edwards, they were: running backs Johnny White and Zach Brown, offensive linemen Mark Asper, James Carmon, David Snow and Keith Williams, tight end Kevin Brock, defensive linemen Robert Eddins, Jarron Gilbert and Kellen Heard, linebackers Tank Carder and Scott McKillop, defensive backs Isaiah Green and Nick Saenz, and punter Shawn Powell.
Meanwhile, offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders was placed on the injured reserve list.
More roster moves are likely to come before the season opener.
Rookie cornerback Ron Brooks suffered a foot injury in practice last week. He's a candidate to qualify for a new injured reserve rule that allows a team to bring a player back off the injured reserve list later in the season. Such a player must have an injury of at least six weeks in length but can't go on the IR list until Sept. 4.
Here are the numbers the Bills have - for now - at each position on their roster:
Quarterback: 4 (counting Smith). Running back: 4. Receiver: 4. Tight end: 3. Offensive line: 9. Defensive line: 8. Linebacker: 7. Cornerback: 6. Safety: 4. Special teams: 4.
Injuries are a key consideration for every team's final cuts.
The Bills appear to be in a bit of a bind behind Fitzpatrick until Jackson has more time to get comfortable with the offense.
Smith hurt his groin in Thursday's preseason finale at Detroit and may not be available for the Jets game. That situation posed a big problem if Fitzpatrick had to leave the game versus the Jets. Thus, the need for keeping Thigpen.
Presuming Smith isn't ready for the Jets, the Bills will have only four healthy receivers for the game. However, they have more options at their disposal. The Bills have a lot of confidence in lining up running backs Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller in the slot position. And Dickerson, who has 4.40 speed in the 40-yard dash, could be a weapon in that role, as well.
Roosevelt, the star at St. Joe's and the University at Buffalo, was a tough cut. He showed sure hands all training camp, caught a team-high 10 passes in preseason and was reliable returning punts. He was not high enough on the receiver depth chart.
Cornerback will be a position to watch this week as the Bills prepare for the Jets. The Bills are hoping veteran Terrence McGee, who was held out of the Detroit game with a sore knee, will be ready for the opener. Brooks is out. If McGee isn't quite ready for Week One, that leaves the Bills with four healthy cornerbacks. That's enough, but the team can't afford any more injuries there in the short term.
Players with limited experience who were released could go on a team's practice squad if they clear waivers. The released Bills who have too much game experience to qualify for a practice squad are: Roosevelt, Hagan, Martin, Brock, Edwards, Heard and McKillop.