Thursday Thought: The Battle of the Backups

Thursday Thought

With the start of the 2020 season around the corner, 53-man roster projections are a hot topic amongst the Buffalo Bills community. Between the position battles and underdogs stories, the debate and intrigue over the final roster are endless during this time. Usually Bills fans are used to watching position battle take place for starting roles. However, with a roster that is deep with talent, virtually every starter is settled. This puts the Bills in a unique position and one that the Bills haven’t seen in a long time. This week’s Thursday Thought: The Battle of the Backups.

It’s weird to imagine a Bills roster that is so complete, especially after years of having so much mediocrity and rosters with starting roles up for grabs. Yet, Brandon Beane has built a roster that has no question marks with the starters.  Outside of the boundary cornerback opposite Tre White and right guard, every starter is penciled in. Even with those positions, the Bills have players that are known commodities in the NFL, who can get it done in this league.

Where the position battles on this roster exists on this roster are all at backup positions. Not to say that they aren’t important as many of these players will find themselves on special teams. However, it’s noteworthy that many of the training camp battles are for guys who won’t be regular starters barring injuries.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Duke Williams (82) during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

This situation is so unfamiliar for Bills fans, that we often forget the roles these players will have. For example, the tail end of the wide receiver depth chart has gotten a lot of attention during training camp. People have been debating whether the Bills should keep six versus seven receivers, and who would be the last receiver or two to make the cut.

The reality is that on the depth chart, wide receiver six and possibly wide receiver seven won’t be seeing the field much if at all. It’s likely these players would be inactive most weeks. So, for everyone who wants Duke Williams to make the team, we have to remember that there is so much talent at wide receiver that Williams would rarely be activated on gamedays.  

Linebacker is another position that has had some heated competition going on throughout camp. Just like with wide receiver that main starters are set. Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano, A.J. Klein, and even Tyler Matakevich are all locks with clearly defined roles. The Bills just traded for Andre Smith, who like Matakevich, is a known special teams ace. This leaves likely one spot left for Tyrel Dodson, Corey Thompson, and Vosean Joseph.   

Buffalo Bills linebacker Tyrel Dodson (53) against the Detroit Lions during an NFL preseason football game in Detroit, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Once again, some Bills fans are pounding the table for Joseph to make the team and even be the starter instead of A.J. Klein. We have to remember again that even if Joseph makes the roster, he’ll be playing special teams at best.

It’s fun to debate and discuss position battles on the roster, it’s what keeps fans going during the offseason. We just have to remember that the Bills roster is loaded with good players. That these underdog guys we love to route for are simply battling for backup jobs.  

Mitch Broder is a contributor for The Buffalo Fanatics. To contact him, email him at mitchell.broder@gmail.com or on Twitter @mitchell_broder

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