Buffalo Bills 7 Up vs. Detroit Lions

Quite a few players for the Bills were fighting for their roster lives last night. Here are seven players, some of whom won't make the team, who looked impressive last night.

This article generally looks at the best and worst Buffalo Bills performances from the previous night’s game. For the preseason finale, we’re going to just focus on the positive side of things and look at seven players who performed well for Buffalo. Some of these players are roster locks, some are on the bubble and some are long shots, but they all deserve praise for their strong play against the Detroit Lions

7 Up

A.J. Tarpley

Tarpley is on the roster bubble but Buffalo desperately needs depth at the MIKE linebacker position. After Ty Powell went down with an ACL injury, Rex Ryan said that Tarpley would get the first crack at the job. The undrafted free agent was a bit inconsistent in his first opportunity for the job. Buffalo started to give Tony Steward reps at the MIKE spot, but he suffered an MCL injury last week and all of a sudden, it was Tarpley’s job to lose again.

On Thursday, Tarpley was one of the best players on the field for the Bills. He showed good instincts and seemed to be around the ball early and often. It was the type of performance Bills coaches and fans have been waiting for. Tarpley finished the night with eight solo tackles, two of which were tackles for loss, and a pass defensed. His performance may have landed him a spot on the 53-man roster.

Kevin Reddick

Reddick was claimed off of waivers early in the week and saw significant time on the field. Like Tarpley, Reddick can play the MIKE linebacker position. In his first game with Buffalo, with very little time to learn the playbook, Reddick was impressive.

He finished second in tackles for Buffalo with seven total (six solo), one of which was a tackle for loss. Due to Tarpley’s strong play and the overall talent on the roster, Reddick’s chances of sticking on the roster aren’t in his favor. That said, the coaching staff had to come away impressed with his play.

Ron Brooks

Brooks is like a rash. Every year people say it’s the end of the road for him, but he just comes back stronger. This season, Buffalo’s cornerback depth looked like a major strength entering training camp and Brooks’ spot was far from guaranteed. However, he’s played well over the course of the preseason and last night, Brooks made the play of the game for the Bills defense when he returned an interception 81 yards for a touchdown. Thanks to injuries and his strong overall play, Brooks could start the season as Buffalo’s top reserve outside cornerback. Not bad for a guy who was firmly on the bubble to start the season.

Cierre Wood

Wood doesn’t have much of a chance to land on the 53-man roster, but his play has impressed since he joined the Bills a few weeks ago. The running back has shown ability at times as a runner, receiver and blocker. Last night, the running back finished with 27 yards on six carries (4.5 YPC) and 36 yards on three receptions.

He or Bronson Hill could vie for a spot on Buffalo’s practice squad.

Dezmin Lewis

Last night had to feel good for Lewis. The seventh round draft pick didn’t have a very good training camp. In fact, he didn’t stand out until the team’s final week of practices. If every receiver had been healthy, that’d be understandable, but various injuries gave Lewis an opportunity to show his skills. Instead, he was outperformed by Deonte Thompson and Andre Davis at camp.

Against the Lions, Lewis showed Bills coaches and fans what he could do and finished as the game’s leading receiver with 81 yards on six catches. Lewis didn’t see great competition at Central Arkansas and he’s raw but he’s an intriguing player. Buffalo may have seen enough from him last night to offer him a practice squad spot. It comes down to what positions they want on their squad and how many they want. If Andre Davis gets cut and goes unclaimed, he’ll probably be the team’s top priority for the practice squad.

Colton Schmidt

Schmidt was a lock to make the roster and he had no competition. That said, his biggest issue last season was consistency. Schmidt showed plenty of that in the preseason and the punter was outstanding against the Lions.

Schmidt finished the night with four punts that went for an average of 54.2 yards. His longest punt went for 58 yards and two of his punts put the Lions inside their 20 yard line.

Merrill Noel

Noel didn’t show up on the stat sheet last night but he was all over the field for the Bills. He applied good pressure on Detroit’s quarterbacks and his tackle on Jeremy Ross is what allowed the ball to pop up in the air to Ron Brooks for a touchdown.

Noel might not make the 53-man roster this year for the Bills. He’s realistically behind Stephon Gilmore, Ronald Darby, Leodis McKelvin, Nickell Robey and Ron Brooks. At the end of the day, Mario Butler also outplayed Noel in camp and the preseason. If the team carries six cornerbacks, I’m inclined to believe that Butler gets the spot. That said, Noel is probably a top practice squad candidate for Buffalo and someone who could get called up during the season.

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