ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills are going with a young receiving corps after releasing James Hardy and Chad Jackson to set their 53-player roster Saturday.
The two were the odd men out as the Bills elected to keep undrafted rookies David Nelson and Donald Jones in making their final cuts. That means the Bills prepare to open their season hosting the Miami Dolphins next weekend with just two receivers -- starter Lee Evans and slot man Roscoe Parrish -- who have 13 or more career receptions.
Hardy is a 2008 second-round draft pick whose career in Buffalo had been hampered by injuries. He missed all but the final two games last season while recovering from knee surgery. An undisclosed injury also prevented him from playing in the team's first two preseason games last month.
Among the other notable players released by the Bills on Saturday were veteran guard Kirk Chambers and rookie quarterback Levi Brown, a seventh-round pick out of Troy University. Running backs Chad Simpson and Joique Bell, who both had solid preseasons, also were cut, meaning Buffalo will carry just four running backs, including fullback Corey McIntyre.
Veteran tight end Derek Schouman was waived/injured as coach Chan Gailey said the Bills weren't prepared to wait for the player to recover from a knee injury he sustained two weeks ago.
Strong safety Jon Corto was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list after having surgery in July to repair a broken list.
Assessing his receivers, Gailey said Nelson and Jones were both rewarded for having solid preseasons.
"In our opinion, they gave us the best chance to win football games," said Gailey, in his first year as Bills coach. "One thing when you come in without any preconceived ideas, everybody gets to start on an even keel. And those guys played well, when they got their chances. They made the most of it."
Nelson, one of Tim Tebow's primary targets at Florida last year, finished the preseason with eight catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns. In Buffalo, Nelson had spent the summer competing with Steve Johnson for the No. 2 job.
Gailey also formally announced that quarterback Trent Edwards has reclaimed the starting job he lost midway through last season. The decision wasn't a surprise after Edwards spent the entire preseason working with the starters ahead of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm.
At practice Saturday, Brohm said he worked with the scout team, an indication that he'll open the season as the third-stringer.
Starting free safety Jairus Byrd returned to practice Saturday for the first time since having surgery to repair a nagging groin injury two weeks ago. Byrd said there's a possibility he'll be ready for the start of the season.
Byrd also revealed that he spent additional days in hospital after developing an infection related to the operation. He's coming off a rookie season in which he earned a Pro Bowl selection after finishing tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions.
In making their cuts, the Bills concentrated heavily on keeping defensive players. In all, the team is carrying 11 defensive backs and 10 linebackers, some of whom will be used on special teams.
Tight end Shawn Nelson was retained, but he will not count against the Bills' roster as he'll open the season serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press