With training camp still a few weeks away, the Buffalo Bills are already starting to trim their defensive line rotation.
The team this week announced the release of a former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle, one who looked to compete for a roster spot at the upcoming camp. The Bills are looking forward to the return of one of their most important defensive linemen this season, and have been working to bring more talent to the position.
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Gone in Three Weeks
The Bills announced the release of defensive tackle Nazair Jones, who had only signed with the team at the end of June. As USA Today’s Bills Wire hinted at the time he was signed, the 2017 third-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks would have had a difficult time making the final roster as he came to the Bills with a light resume and a year away from football.
“[Jones] did not play in 2020 after spending three seasons with the Seahawks,” the report noted. “Overall in that time, Jones appeared in 20 total games and his most productive years was his first when he had a sack and three tackles for loss in 11 games played.”
At the time, the Bills had signed both Jones and defensive tackle Eli Ankou, who remained on the roster ahead of training camp. With the release of Jones, but Bills now have eight players in the defensive tackle room, Bills Wire pointed out.
The Bills spent plenty of attention on the defensive line at the NFL Draft, adding Gregory Rousseau and Carlos Basham Jr. to their group of edge rushers. Some also expect 2020 draft pick A.J. Epenesa to rebound this season after a slow start to his career. As Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News noted, Epenesa has worked on upping his playing weight after dropping to as low as 245 pounds last season. He has already reached 250 pounds and plans to play at 260 this season, Gaughan noted.
Bills Boost Defensive Line
Though the Bills may be light on the position going into camp, one of the most important players is returning after a year on the sidelines. Star Lotulelei opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns of COVID-19, but is slated to return for the upcoming season.
Lotulelei spoke out about his return last month, saying he is working to get back with the team after a year focusing on his family.
“I’m trying to get acclimated and get back into the swing of being in football meetings every day, getting back to football being life,” Lotulelei said, via the team’s website. “Having to kind of put my family kind of on the back burner. That’s just the sacrifice we make in this league, but I’m ready to be back.”
Lotulelei is seen as one of the most important members of the defense, and his absence last season left a hole that the team struggled to fill. Though he may not have as many contributions on the stat sheet, Lotulelei consistently attracted double-teams that opened up opportunities for pass rushers and linebackers.