NFL: Buffalo Bills Sign Return Specialist Brandon Tate And Cornerback Marcus Robertson, Reggie Bush To Have Bigger Offensive Role?

The Buffalo Bills added two players to their football family on Tuesday afternoon, the team announced.

The Bills, who were carrying just 52 players on its roster after the league’s mandatory cut down day on Saturday, completed their opening day roster with the signing of wide receiver Brandon Tate. Since Buffalo had been below the player limit, they did not have to make a corresponding roster move.

Mike Rodak of ESPN reports that Tate is expected to be in the mix for kick return duties. Walter Powell and Reggie Bush shared those duties during the preseason duties. Rodack predicted that Bush would remain as the main punt returner.

Tate also adds depth to the Bills’ receiving crop as the team previously had five receivers on the roster as Marcus Easley was recently placed on the physically unable to perform list, leaving Marquise Goodwin, Greg Salas, and Powell behind starters Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. Salas is the most experienced and accomplished of the other three backups, as he has 46 career catches, while Goodwin has 20 and Powell has none.

Tate was released by the Cincinnati Bengals on August 31 as the team trimmed its roster to 75 players. The 28-year-old served mainly as a return specialist in his five seasons with the Bengals, returning 297 punts and kickoffs during that span. He possesses career averages of 24.6 yards per kick return, and 9.6 yards on punts while totaling three touchdowns. But Tate struggled in the return game last year, compiling 22.9 yards on kick returns with a long of 58, and only 6.3 yards per punt return with a long of 18 yards.

Tate has never been able to break into the lineup as a receiver consistently, since being selected in the third round of the 2009 draft by the New England Patriots. He caught two passes for 59 yards — which includes a 55-yarder for a touchdown – and one score in 2015.

Overall, Tate has 57 career receptions, on 104 targets (54 percent rate), for 906 yards and six touchdowns. His best season came with the Patriots in 2010 when he had 24 receptions for 432 yards and three touchdowns.

So, what does Tate’s arrival mean for Bush?

As mentioned above, Tate could replace either Bush or Powell as one of the team’s kick returners with Bush being the odds on favorite to be out. Bush is listed No. 2 on the running back depth chart, meaning he could see around 10 carries when LeSean McCoy needs a breather.

Bush may see some time split out as a wide receiver when McCoy is in the backfield given the team’s lack of experienced depth at the position. Bush is an excellent pass catcher, and still has some shiftiness despite all the injuries he has suffered.

Bush played some receiver early in his career with the New Orleans Saints. He accumulated 294 of his 470 career receptions in his five seasons with the Saints.

Buffalo opens the regular season against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium at 1 p.m. ET on September 11. The Bills suffered several injuries to key players this offseason, and will be without DT Marcell Dareus (suspended), as well as their top two draft picks in 2016 — DE Shaq Lawson and LB Reggie Ragland.

In other news, the Bills officially signed cornerback Marcus Roberson to their practice squad today. Roberson was cut by the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday despite having a pretty productive training camp, registering 10 tackles. He spent two seasons with the Rams after going undrafted out of Florida in 2014. Roberson has appeared in 25 NFL games, recording 39 tackles and one interception.

Roberson’s signing gives the Bills seven players on their practice squad, meaning the organization can sign three more players to the squad. Kicker Jordan Gray, CB Dorian Grant, C Gabe Ikard, DE Max Valles, along with WR’s Matt Hazel and Dezmin Lewis are the other players on the practice squad.

[Photo by Stephen B. Morton/AP Photo]

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