Bills' 53-man roster projection includes new-look receivers, secondary

The Bills are "cautiously optimistic" Jordan Matthews will be ready to play Week 1 after fracturing his sternum. John Jones/Icon Sportswire

The Buffalo Bills must cut their roster to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 2. Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACKS (3): Tyrod Taylor, Nathan Peterman, T.J. Yates

This position remains in flux with Taylor and Yates both in the concussion protocol. If Taylor cannot practice by next Wednesday or Thursday, it seems unlikely the Bills would start him in the opener Sept. 10. In that case, Peterman would likely get the nod. I kept Yates on this projection because of the uncertainty around Taylor, but I am not convinced he is assured a roster spot when Taylor and Peterman are both healthy.

RUNNING BACKS (4): LeSean McCoy, Jonathan Williams, Mike Tolbert, Joe Banyard

The Bills project to use a mix of Williams and Tolbert when McCoy is on the sideline. How exactly those snaps and carries will be distributed remains uncertain, but Tolbert seemingly has the edge in short-yardage and blitz pickup situations. Banyard has shown up on several special-teams units.

FULLBACK (1): Patrick DiMarco

Tolbert could get some occasional snaps at fullback, but this is DiMarco's job.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6): Jordan Matthews, Zay Jones, Andre Holmes, Brandon Tate, Rod Streater, Brandon Reilly

The Bills have experienced more upheaval at this position than perhaps any other since last season. Coach Sean McDermott said Tuesday he is "cautiously optimistic" Matthews will be ready to play Week 1 after fracturing his sternum. If not, Jones and Holmes would be the top pairing. Tate projects mainly as a returner who could see time offensively in the slot because of the short-handed situation. Streater has yet to practice since injuring his toe Aug. 17, but Buffalo not yet placing him on injured reserve would seem to indicate the Bills expect him back at some point and could hold a roster spot for him.

TIGHT ENDS (3): Charles Clay, Nick O'Leary, Logan Thomas

Barring a surprise cut, this position appears set. O'Leary and Thomas could become part of the offensive game plan with fewer options at wide receiver.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, Eric Wood, John Miller, Vladimir Ducasse, Jordan Mills, Dion Dawkins, Ryan Groy

There is an ongoing battle at right guard between Ducasse, the offseason free-agent signing, and Miller, the incumbent 2015 third-round pick. It is unclear if the Bills will keep the loser of that battle, release him or trade him. Dawkins and Groy project as the top tackle and interior (guard/center) backups, respectively.

DEFENSIVE ENDS (4): Jerry Hughes, Shaq Lawson, Eddie Yarbrough, Ryan Davis

This group appears set, with Yarbrough's strong preseason potentially earning him a rotational role as a pass-rusher this season.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (4): Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams, Adolphus Washington, Jerel Worthy

Unless the Bills pull another shocking move and either cut or trade Dareus, which would come with hefty salary-cap consequences, this group is set, with the potential for the Bills to keep a fifth player or make a waiver claim as depth. Worthy's head injury in Thursday's preseason finale could necessitate that.

LINEBACKERS (6): Lorenzo Alexander, Preston Brown, Ramon Humber, Gerald Hodges, Tanner Vallejo, Matt Milano

The trade of Reggie Ragland helped clear up the picture at this position. Vallejo is week-to-week after having his knee scoped.

CORNERBACKS (6): Tre'Davious White, Shareece Wright, Leonard Johnson, E.J. Gaines, Kevon Seymour, Bradley Sylve

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said last week he wanted to have the starting job opposite White locked up by this week, although it's unclear who the winner is yet. Seymour has been hampered by foot and shoulder injuries that have kept him lower on the depth chart. Sylve, a first-year player from Alabama, sticks in this projection as depth and a special-teams contributor.

SAFETIES (5): Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer, Trae Elston, Shamiel Gary, Colt Anderson

There are some injury questions that muddle the picture here. Gary missed Thursday's preseason game with an undisclosed injury, while Anderson missed the entire preseason with a foot injury. When healthy, Anderson is a key special-teams contributor. But if he cannot stay healthy, the Bills could move on. Because Anderson briefly returned to practice in training camp, he cannot be placed on the physically unable to perform list. Anderson must either be kept on the roster, placed on injured reserve or released (likely with an injury settlement).

SPECIALISTS (3): Stephen Hauschka, Colton Schmidt, Reid Ferguson

There is no competition for any of these three players, so barring a surprise cut, this will be their group.