When the Buffalo Bills announced on Tuesday that they had cut ties with defensive end Mark Anderson and placed offensive tackle Chris Hairston on the Physically Unable to Perform list, it took away two players from the start of training camp that could have played significant minutes for the team.
Due to both of their absences now, valuable time can go to other players who are healthy and hoping to crack the roster.
Who benefits the most? Take a look:
1) OT Erik Pears
- No matter how much time Chris Hairston takes to get fully healthy, not even having the threat of him practicing heading in to training camp is a breath of life in to Pears' chances of making the roster. Back in May, Pears was listed as the second-most likely to be a cap casualty on the Bills roster because of his contract versus his production. He has a cap hit of $2.8 million in 2013 and $3.45 million in 2014. It's doubtful that he ever comes close to seeing the final year of his contract, but with Hairston sidelined, Pears now has at least a chance to not only make this roster, but maybe even start.
2) OLB Jerry Hughes
- The most impressive defensive player from the spring practices, Hughes will likely get a big bump in playing time. Now that the Bills' coaches don't have to worry about getting Anderson looks just because of the deal he signed in 2012, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine can use Hughes however and whenever he sees fit. The former first-round pick had his most productive season of his career in 2012, and could potentially build off that in Pettine's defense. Keep in mind, Hughes turns only 25 in August.
3) OLB Jamie Blatnick
- Maybe not the household name, but Blatnick was also impressive during spring practices. Coming off the edge and getting a lot of repetitions, his count will only go up in training camp. More importantly now, Blatnick has a significantly higher chance of making the roster without Anderson there. While no player in the NFL wants to see his teammate released, he had to be quite excited upon hearing the news.
4) OT Zebrie Sanders
- The fifth-round pick in 2012, Sanders essentially redshirted in his rookie season. So the team didn't have to risk losing him, they placed the offensive tackle on injured reserve before the final cuts. That started a year's worth of surgery and rehab to which Sanders looks ready to put behind him. Without Hairston taking reps, that means the second team reps are now his for the taking on the right side. If he's impressive enough and Hairston is out for a long period of time, he could even push Pears. With it essentially being his rookie year however, it's not a great bet for Sanders to make that big of a splash that quickly.
5) GM Doug Whaley
- Perception is everything. Last off-season, the Bills made Mark Anderson the Robin to their Batman signing of Mario Williams. One year and roughly $8.1 million in Anderson's pocket later, the Bills were ready to move on. It's a new defense that needs different skill-sets, and the acquisition of both Manny Lawson and Jerry Hughes helped push Anderson out the door. It's a positive step for the franchise to cut their ties with a free agent signing that clearly wasn't working out after one season and move on to free up both playing time and cap space for players better suited for the roster.