5 Buffalo Bills to Watch vs. the Lions

Buffalo's preseason finale will take place on Thursday against the Detroit Lions. Who should Bills fans keep an eye on? Here are five players to watch.

Rex Ryan has said that all Buffalo Bills starters will rest in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Detroit Lions. Resting starters in the fourth preseason game is nothing new and it gives Buffalo the chance to evaluate players on the roster bubble. Here are five Bills to watch on Thursday.

Matt Simms

Simms is expected to play the entire game for the Bills and it will give Buffalo a chance to see what they have in the quarterback. Ryan believes Simms can play and he said he expects the quarterback to prove it to everyone on Thursday. As of now, his odds of making the 53-man roster aren’t looking great after Ryan said the odds are probably stacked against Simms.

That said, Buffalo could clear further cap space by releasing Matt Cassel or trading E.J. Manuel. Ryan seems adamant about keeping Tyrod Taylor, Manuel and Cassel on the roster but whoever is named the team’s third string quarterback may ask to be moved. If Simms plays well tomorrow, he opens the door to making this possible. Simms has practice squad eligibility and there’s a good chance the Bills place him there as long as he looks decent versus the Lions.

Bronson Hill

Hill was signed by the Bills in early August after the injury bug hit the team at the running back position. He’s flashed talent on the field and has improved each week of the preseason. He’s gone from a 2.6 YPC average against Carolina to a 3.1 YPC average against the Browns to a 4.0 YPC average against the Steelers. In addition to his running, he’s also showed the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s recorded two receptions and caught a two point conversion. Hill probably doesn’t beat out Bryce Brown, a favorite of GM Doug Whaley, for the fourth running back spot, but another solid performance could land him on Buffalo’s practice squad this season. Not bad for a guy who was picked up less than a month ago.

Andre Davis

Davis and Deonte Thompson were pleasant surprises at wide receiver. Both players made quite a few plays at training camp. It’s unknown if Thompson will play against the Lions, but Davis is expected to hit the field. He is one player I believe the Bills will lose after Saturday. It’s hard to envision the team keeping him on the 53-man roster and, if released, Davis has a shot to land on another team’s 53-man roster. His stats in the preseason have been modest (6 receptions, 44 yards, one touchdown) so perhaps the Bills get lucky and can place Davis on their practice squad. The undrafted free agent can definitely play in the NFL but the Bills just happen to be very deep at the position.

Marcus Thigpen

Thigpen is a terrific punt returner. Last week, his skills were on display when his return late in the first half against the Steelers gave the Bills a shot to get into field goal range with less than 10 seconds remaining.

Losing a returner with Thigpen’s skills wouldn’t be easy to replace. In addition to returning punts, Thigpen can contribute at wide receiver and running back if necessary. Having someone as versatile as Thigpen is great to have on a roster, but can the Bills find room for him? That’s the question going into Thursday. Hopefully Thigpen makes the decision even more difficult for the Bills by returning a few punts for large chunks of yards against the Lions. If he performs well, Buffalo

Kevin Reddick

Buffalo just claimed Reddick on Tuesday from the Panthers. Generally, players with less than a week to prove themselves don’t make the 53-man roster, but Reddick has a shot.

After the Bills lost Ty Powell for the season, their depth at the MIKE linebacker position took a big hit. Undrafted free agent A.J. Tarpley got the first crack at the job but his play has been inconsistent. Buffalo then planned on giving rookie Tony Steward reps at the MIKE spot but he suffered an MCL injury last week and will be out of action for a few weeks.

On Thursday, keep an eye on Reddick. If he outplays Tarpley, he could be a surprise addition to Buffalo’s 53-man roster.

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