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Pollock: The Buffalo Bills are facing a busy five-week stretch

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By CHUCK POLLOCK, Sun Senior Sports Columnist

So, there isn’t much of a lull after the National Football League’s draft a weekend ago.

The next big event, in all likelihood, will come Thursday night when the 2024 schedule will be announced. The NFL hasn’t made it official but history indicates that the national TV announcement will come the second Thursday in May.

If you’ve forgotten the Bills’ opponents, here’s a reminder. There are the obligatory home-and-home games with division foes Miami, New England and the New York Jets.

Also visiting Highmark Stadium this season will be the Cardinals, Chiefs, 49ers, Jaguars and Titans.

Non-divisional road games will be at Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles (Rams) and Seattle.

THEN, NEXT FRIDAY, the Bills host their annual rookie minicamp.

Next, on consecutive Tuesdays — May 21, 28 and June 4 –Buffalo will conduct its non-mandatory Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

Finally, June 11-13 is the mandatory minicamp.

After that the team is off until the opening of training camp in late July at Pittsford’s St. John Fisher University.

AFTER THE DRAFT Bills’ general manager Brandon Beane allowed as how Buffalo would not reach the NFL roster limit of 90 players.

Turns out, he was right as, heading into OTAs, the current count is 87 and that doesn’t include safety Micah Hyde who hasn’t decided if he will retire, re-sign with the Bills or another team.

Besides the the team’s salary cap issues, Beane admitted the goal was for the roster to get younger as, last season, Buffalo had one of the NFL’s oldest squads based on average age.

Part of that was alleviated by the trade of wide receiver Stefon Diggs and the release of center Mitch Morse, defensive linemen Leonard Floyd and Jordan Phillips, safety Jordan Poyer and Hyde’s presumed exit. That took out six players in the 30-and-over range.

Buffalo still has 11 players in that group, but other than tackle Dion Dawkins, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, and edge rusher Von Miller, none are starters, the other eight are back-ups or special teamers.

NEXT FRIDAY at rookie minicamp the Bills will likely have 22 players, the 10 draft choices and a dozen undrafted free agents.

The other 65 players are veterans, including those returning, the eight they re-signed — Jones, edge rusher A.J. Epenesa, safety Taylor Rapp, running back Ty Johnson, defensive back Cam Lewis, long-snapper Reid Ferguson, tight end Quintin Morris and guard David Edwards. Buffalo also added eight veteran free agents: wide receivers Curtis Samuel, Chase Claypool, Mack Hollins and Quintez Cephus, linebacker Nick Morrow, center Will Clapp, edge rusher Casey Toohill and punter Matt Haack. 

In all the Bills lost 14 veterans. Diggs was traded to Houston and center/guard Ryan Bates was dealt to Chicago. Lost in free agency were center Mitch Morris and wide receiver Gabe Davis both of whom went to Jacksonville, linebacker Tyrel Dodson was signed by Seattle, edge rusher Leonard Floyd by San Francisco, safety Jordan Poyer and defensive back Siran Neal by Miami, running back Nyheim Hines by Cleveland and wide receiver Deonte Harty by Baltimore. Cornerback Tre’ Devious White will be released June 1 and linebackers Tyler Matakevich and A.J. Klein plus Hyde remain unsigned.

In any case, come September’s opener the Bills will have eight different starters from most of the games last year. Gone are Diggs, Davis, Morse, Floyd, Dodson, White, Poyer and Hyde.

(Chuck Pollock, a Wellsville Sun senior sports columnist, can be reached at cpollock@wnynet.net.)

Read more great columns by Chuck Pollock by clicking the links!

• Beane assesses the Bills’ draft picks

• A look at the first three picks by the Bills

• Will the Bills regret trading out of the first round?

• A look at the Buffalo Bills going into the NFL draft

• Pollock on the Bonnies and the need for a defensive lineman in the NFL draft for the Bills

• O.J. Simpson left a mixed legacy … in the wrong order

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