Although all of the starters and even several second string players sat out during the Bills final preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, the game was interesting nonetheless as depth players battled for roster spots. With the “Cut Day” deadline less than 48 hours away at the time of kickoff, every player had high hopes of making a lasting impression on the coaching staff to solidify their place on the team. After a come back victory, it was clear that there were some winners and losers from this preseason face off.
Winner, Marcus Murphy, running back:
The running back room is probably way too crowded for Murphy to earn a spot on the team with LeSean McCoy, Devin Singletary, Frank Gore, and TJ Yeldon all seemingly locks. Murphy carried the ball eight times for 27 yards and also returned a punt for a 79 yard touchdown. If anything, Murphy set himself up to be traded or signed into a good situation for the 2019 season. The Houston Texans, who just lost starting running back Lamar Miller to an ACL injury, may be knocking on the Bills doors here shortly.
Loser, Corey Bojorquez, punter:
It appeared that Bojorquez “won” the punter battle (also known as the “Corey vs. Cory Puntapalooza”) when the Bills released punter Cory Carter. Minutes into the game, it was apparent that the Bills’ punting woes were far but over when Bojorquez punted the ball for a measely 30 yards. Bojorquez has a powerful leg but is very inconsistent. It would not be shocking at all if Buffalo searched for another punter in free agency. One name that has been tossed around on Twitter is former New England Patriots punter Ryan Allen, who happens to be the guy Bojorquez lost the punter battle to in New England, one calendar year ago.
Winner, Lafayette Pitts, corner back:
Things have looked shaky for Pitts lately in terms of job security with a more crowded than usual corner back room. Pitts, who has been a special teams standout for Buffalo since 2017, is battling for a roster spot but his showing in the Bills preseason game against the Vikings may have helped his case. Pitts currently sits behind Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace, Kevin Johnson, Taron Johnson, and Captain Munnerlyn on the depth chart but against the Vikings, he showed he is more than a special teams player. He had two solo tackles and came up huge with an interception of Kyle Slotter. With a solid game under his belt, he may be able to edge out Munnerlyn.
Loser, Tyree Jackson, quarterback:
Unfortunately for Jackson, he did not even have a bad outing against the Vikings but he still found his way on the “loser list”. Jackson has had a sub-par preseason and tonight was his big chance to show that he was more than a practice squad project. Jackson threw for 175 yards (5.3 yards per attempt) and a touchdown, as well as 78 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Not a bad showing, but nothing that will blow the coaching staff out of the water enough for him to earn a spot on the roster behind Matt Barkley.
Winner, Jaquan Johnson, safety:
To put it plainly, Johnson did exactly what he needed to to solidify a roster spot for himself. Twelve total tackles (nine solo tackles) speaks for themselves, Johnson was everywhere against the Vikings and certainly separated himself from any competition.
Winner/Loser, Ray-Ray McCloud, wide receiver:
McCloud is our first ever winner/loser. He is a loser because it was very evident that he, Nick Easley, and Duke Williams were all fighting for the last wide receiver spot on the roster. This means that he has supposedly been put behind Isaiah McKenzie on depth chart, which McKenzie was his main competition. McCloud is a winner though because he led Buffalo in receptions (five) and in receiving yards (48). Although he performed well, if I was the coaching staff, I would opt to go with Duke Williams for the final receiver spot in an attempt to diversify the receiving corps.
Regardless of what happens on “Cut Day”, Buffalo closes the pages on a fantastic preseason, in which they went 4-0 for the first time in franchise history.