Levi Wallace

East Notes: Zeke, Giants, McCoy

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott managed to escape a suspension for a potentially troublesome incident in May, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests that if Elliott should even come close to violating the league’s personal conduct policy again, the punishment will be severe. Commissioner Roger Goodell gave everyone in the league office this week off, so Florio believes the only reason for Goodell to summon Elliott to league headquarters on Tuesday was to sufficiently scare him into staying on the straight and narrow. Goodell has been less harsh with players who run afoul of league policies in recent history, but if Elliott should put another toe out of line in the future, the commissioner will likely hand out a lengthy ban, and his decision to not suspend Elliott this time will help to justify such a measure.

Now for more the league’s east divisions:

  • There do not seem to be any starting jobs up for grabs along the Giants‘ defensive line, even though the presumptive starters are young and mostly unproven. However, with that youth comes a great deal of potential, and one of the keys to Big Blue’s immediate prospects is the realization of that potential. Third-year player Dalvin Tomlinson, second-year talent B.J. Hill, and rookie Dexter Lawrence are expected to open the season atop the Giants’ D-line depth chart, as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, and the addition of Lawrence allows Tomlinson to slide into a traditional nose tackle spot, to which he is better-suited.
  • In a separate 2019 positional preview piece, Schwartz examines the Giants‘ tight end group, which is headed by Evan Engram. Engram had a disappointing start to 2018, his second professional season, but when Odell Beckham missed the final four games of the season, Engram excelled and finished with some positive momentum. Now that OBJ is in Cleveland, New York will need Engram to show more of the same in a crucial year for his development. The club’s second TE, Rhett Ellison, is a favorite of HC Pat Shurmur, while returnee Scott Simonson will have to hold off C.J. Conrad — a UDFA who impressed this spring — and former Syracuse QB Eric Dungey, another UDFA who is trying to make the club as a TE/gadget player.
  • Vic Carucci of BNBlitz.com says it’s possible that Bills GM Brandon Beane and LeSean McCoy have adamantly pushed the notion that McCoy will be the team’s starter in 2019 in order to generate some trade interest. After all, the club does have a large stable of RBs, and McCoy, a 2020 free agent, appears to be nearing the end of his career. But Carucci says he has heard nothing to indicate that Buffalo is seeking to trade McCoy.
  • In the same piece, Carucci says he believes Levi Wallace will start for the Bills at cornerback opposite TreDavious White.
  • In case you missed it, we heard this morning that Cowboys edge rusher Randy Gregory will be applying for reinstatement shortly.
  • Also from this morning: the Giants may deploy safety Jabrill Peppers as their primary punt returner.

Bills Release CB Phillip Gaines

The Bills have released starting cornerback Phillip Gaines, the club announced today. Buffalo has promoted fellow defensive back Levi Wallace from the practice squad to fill Gaines’ vacated roster spot.

Gaines, 27, had started six games for the Bills and was second among Buffalo cornerbacks in defensive snaps with 367, but he hadn’t played especially well. Pro Football Focus graded Gaines as the No. 56 CB among 111 qualifiers, while the ex-Chief had allowed 10.6 yards per pass and a 50% success rate, both of which are well below league average. Buffalo also ranked 19th in pass DVOA against opposing No. 2 receivers, the majority of which were covered by Gaines.

Penalties were also a problem for Gaines. As noted by Mike Rodak of ESPN.com (Twitter links), Gaines leads all NFL players with 131 penalty yards. Additionally, Gaines gave up 90 yards via penalty against the Bears on Sunday (both on lengthy pass interference calls), a total which ranks second among all players since 2001.

With Gaines out of the picture, Ryan Lewis — a waiver claim by the Bills earlier this years — figures to start at corner against the Jets on Sunday, tweets Joe Buscaglia of WKBW. Taron Johnson, who has played roughly 55% of Buffalo’s defensive snaps, will continue in his role as the club’s nickel cornerback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sunday NFL Transactions: AFC East

Listed below are the Sunday roster moves for the four AFC East teams. Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline yesterday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters, claiming players off waivers or signing guys who clear waivers. Those transactions for the Bills, Dolphins, Patriots, and Jets are noted below.

Additionally, as of 12:00pm CT today, teams can begin constructing their 10-man practice squads. You can check out our glossary entry on practice squads to brush up on those changes, as well as all the other guidelines that govern the 10-man units, whose players practice with the team but aren’t eligible to suit up on Sundays.

Here are Sunday’s AFC East transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day:

Buffalo Bills

Claimed:

Cut:

Practice squad:

Miami Dolphins

Claimed:

Placed on injured reserve:

Cut:

Practice squad:

New England Patriots

Claimed:

Placed on injured reserve:

Practice squad:

New York Jets

Practice squad:

Bills Move Roster To 53 Players

The Bills have moved their roster to 53 players but cutting the following:

Buffalo will take on dead money by releasing Coleman, whom it acquired from Cleveland earlier this year. Ryan lost out in the punting battle to Colton Schmidt.

Bills Sign 12 UDFAs

The Bills have added a dozen undrafted free agents to their roster. Here’s the list, in full:

Foster played for Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll at the University of Alabama, so Daboll is already familiar with what he provides. He wasn’t a major contributor in college, but he did have 14 catches for 174 yards and a touchdown last year. Foster impressed evaluators at the combine with a 4.41 second 40-yard-dash and his build gives the Bills some hope that he can stick at the next level.

Phillips, on the other hand, was a big performer in college. At Virginia Tech, he caught 147 passes in his final two seasons for nearly 2,100 yards and 12 TDs.