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Camp Battle Preview: Defensive Line.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

(Note: Not taking into account the possible 2-4 game suspension coming of Ed Oliver

The Locks:

Ed Oliver

Star Loutulelei 

Jerry Hughes

Trent Murphy 

Mario Addison

Veron Butler 

AJ Epenesa 

Breakdown:

A lot of fans called for Trent Murphy and Star Loutulelei to be cut, citing underperforming and large contracts. (6.4 and 4.6 million respectively for next year.) A couple points on this. Just because they may not be a great value doesn’t mean they don’t contribute to the team. Murphy played well down the stretch and Star will never be a player who racks up stats but does a serviable job taking up space and eating blocks. In non covid year, the argument could be made to move on from them to save cap space but in a year where continuity is more valuable than ever, moving on it not worth the money you’d save. The Bills are also no longer in a situation where they need to penny pinch on the salary cap. Moreover, just like last year with Ed Oliver and Star Loutulelei, AJ Epenesa doesn’t need to be rushed into a starting role. The coaching staff can rotate Epenesa 30-40% of the snaps until he earns more. Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier have to be licking their chops with the versatility and depth this year’s line presents. 

The Bubble:

Harrison Phillips

Darryl Johnson Jr.

Vincent Taylor

Breakdown:

I honestly think Harrison Phillips probably makes this roster. But coming off an ACL tear, there is no guarantee he returns to form in time for the season. Darryl Johnson Jr impressed enough in camp last year for the Bills to hide him on the roster. Mcdermott likes to keep eight to nine players on the roster for the line, and with Ed Oliver likey missing time to start the season, both Johnson and Phillips could make the team.Vincent Taylor remains on the bubble because he impressed enough to be on the 53 man last year and will have a chance to battle in camp.

The Longshots:

Jonathan Woodard

Bryan Cox Jr

Mike Love

Breakdown

Bryan Cox Jr making the roster would be a great story, given his super villain father but he is likely battling for practice squad. Jonathan Woodard is not practice squad eligible so if Cox and Love can show promise, there is a lane for them to back the new expanded practice squad.

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