Only 28 days removed from a shutout win in Foxborough, the Buffalo Bills will meet the New England Patriots again for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff this Sunday.
The same familiar faces will be there this time around, too.
There’s six ex-Patriots players in the Bills’ fold, three ex-Bills players in the Patriots’ fold, and seven of whom are on track to suit up when the AFC East foes revisit each other in Orchard Park.
With that, let’s revisit the roster connections leading up to round two.
Brandon Tate, wide receiver – Tate played in 18 games over two seasons with the Patriots after arriving as a third-round selection in 2009. The former North Carolina Tar Heel caught 24 passes for 432 yards and three touchdowns through that span, and returned 45 kickoffs 1,163 yards and an additional two touchdowns. But New England ultimately released Tate prior to the start of the 2011 season. The wideout and return man went on to spend five seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and is now in his first with the Bills. He had a four-yard rush and contributed three punt returns for 18 yards versus the Patriots earlier in October.
Ryan Groy, guard – The Chicago Bears shipped Groy to the Patriots for then-rookie linebacker Matthew Wells in August of 2015. Wells would later be waived by Chicago, while Groy would go on to be waived with the injury designation by New England after four preseason appearances. The Wisconsin product reverted to injured reserve, where he was later released with an injury settlement. Since then, Groy has played in 11 regular-season contests as a member of the Bills.
Jerel Worthy, defensive end – Worthy’s time with the Patriots commenced and concluded in less than three weeks back in the 2014 preseason. It began as the Green Bay Packers sent their former second-round pick to New England in exchange for a conditional 2015 late-rounder. It ended as the Patriots waived Worthy at the cutdown to 53 players. Worthy, who has also been a member of the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions, signed to the Bills’ practice squad late last season and has since played in a total of nine games for the club, logging seven tackles.
Brandon Spikes, linebacker – The 2010 Patriots second-round pick tallied 286 tackles, one sack, 12 pass breakups, two picks and five forced fumbles over four seasons in Foxborough, before signing with the Bills in 2014. Yet after one season in Buffalo, Spikes would make his way back to the Patriots in the summer of 2015, only to be released less than a month into his second stint. Spikes, who pled guilty to three counts of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in personal injury that July, went the rest of the campaign without a team before rejoining the Bills for 2016. He has collected three tackles in six appearances for Buffalo this season.
Ramon Humber, linebacker – As free agency opened at 4 p.m. ET on March 9, the first Patriots signing to follow was Humber. The eight-year veteran proceeded to appear in three preseason games for New England, registering 11 tackles before being released during the 75-man roster cut on Aug. 30. The Bills signed Humber, who played under Buffalo assistant head coach Rob Ryan during his time with the New Orleans Saints, the following day. Humber has since recorded seven tackles over seven games this campaign.
Greg Salas, wide receiver – Salas was ruled out in advance of the Oct. 2 matchup against the Patriots, and he has since been placed on injured reserve. Nevertheless, the Hawaii grad did play in one game with New England back in 2012, working between the active roster and practice squad after arriving via a trade that sent a 2015 seventh-round draft choice to the St. Louis Rams. The Bills are one of four teams Salas has been a member of since then.
Chris Hogan, wide receiver – Hogan was held without a catch when the Bills and Patriots last faced off. But thus far into his stay with New England, the restricted free-agent acquisition has reeled in 15 passes for 300 yards and one touchdown. Hogan, who is on pace to eclipse his previous career-high of 450 receiving yards, spent one season on Buffalo’s practice squad and three on the club’s 53-man roster, playing in every game from 2013 through 2015 to snare 87 passes for 886 yards and six scores. Of that accumulation, he caught 13 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown against the Patriots.
Alan Branch, defensive tackle – Four teams have rostered Branch since the Michigan Wolverine entered the league as a second-round draft choice in 2007. And in 2013, that team was Buffalo. Branch played in every game for the Bills that season, starting 13, while posting a career-best 39 tackles. Yet after signing a three-year contract extension, the veteran was released by Buffalo in August of 2014 following a DUI arrest. Branch has since started his last 22 games with the Patriots. He sacked Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor when the Patriots played host earlier this month.
Glenn Gronkowski, fullback – A day before the two sides last met, the Patriots added a former Bills undrafted rookie to the practice squad. That undrafted rookie just happened to be Rob’s younger brother, Glenn, who had previously signed on and made the Bills’ 53-man roster as a free agent out of Kansas State. Gronkowski was waived after Buffalo’s first game of the regular season, and is now in his second stint on New England’s 10-man practice squad.