The New England Patriots have a reunion to attend Monday night in Orchard Park.
There the Buffalo Bills await their not-so-close AFC East family for a prime-time matchup carrying all the anticipation that a double-digit point spread could.
But there are some connections between the 5-2 Patriots and 2-5 Bills.
Seven players in Buffalo’s fold were once Patriots. Two players in New England’s fold were once Bills.
Here’s a glance through those roster ties as the 8:15 p.m. ET kickoff at New Era Field edges closer.
Andre Holmes, wide receiver – The Patriots signed Holmes to the practice squad in January 2013, but waived the Hillsdale product during organized team activities that May. Holmes has since made stops with the Oakland Raiders and Bills, with whom the 6-foot-4, 210-pound wideout signed on a three-year deal after free agency opened in 2017. Holmes has caught 121 passes for 1,655 yards and 15 touchdowns since his short time in Foxborough. He’s appeared in all seven games for Buffalo this season, starting two.
Conor McDermott, offensive tackle – One of just four selections made by the Patriots in the 2017 NFL draft, arriving in the sixth round at No. 211 overall, McDermott would be waived following his rookie preseason. The Bills claimed the UCLA Bruin the next day. McDermott entered into three games during his first campaign on Buffalo’s 53-man roster, and one thus far into his second. He has played four snaps on offense and 15 on special teams.
Ryan Groy, center – The Patriots traded then-rookie linebacker Matthew Wells to the Chicago Bears in exchange for Groy in the midst of training camp in 2015. Groy would be waived with the injury designation as the locker room trimmed from 90 to 75 to 53 by early September, however. The Wisconsin guard-slash-center joined the Bills’ active roster by way of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ practice squad two months later. Groy has played in 44 games for Buffalo dating back to then, getting 13 starts.
Robert Thomas, defensive tackle – Thomas, currently in his second stint on Buffalo’s practice squad after a two-game promotion to the 53, signed to New England’s scout team back in November 2015. The former Arkansas defensive tackle left the Patriots as the calendar flipped to December for a spot on the Miami Dolphins’ active roster. Thomas has also been a member of the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers and New York Giants since entering the league in 2014. He has recorded 22 tackles and one sack.
Ramon Humber, linebacker – As the 2016 league year kicked off, Humber’s name was the first Patriots signing to cross the wire. But the veteran linebacker and special-teamer via the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints would be released prior to New England’s preseason finale that August, and agreed to terms with the Bills less than 24 hours later. Humber started a career-high nine games and collected a career-high 89 tackles for Buffalo in 2017. He has played in every game thus far into 2018.
Ryan Lewis, cornerback – New England signed Lewis, previously of the Arizona Cardinals, to the practice squad a week into the 2017 regular season. There the undrafted corner out of Pittsburgh remained for the duration of the year. Lewis re-upped with the Patriots on a futures contract in February, yet was waived following the preseason and claimed on Labor Day weekend by Buffalo. Lewis has checked in for his first three NFL regular-season games since then, posting a dozen tackles, a trio of pass deflections and a pair of forced fumbles.
Corey Bojorquez, punter – The greatest trick the Patriots ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And yet the Bills needed more convincing when it came to Bojorquez, the strong-legged lefty punter who never left New England’s sideline during an exhibition game this August. Buffalo claimed Bojorquez at the roster deadline even so, and the rookie free agent has made up for lost time over the last seven weeks. Bojorquez has launched 40 punts – third-most in the league – for an average of 45.8 yards per and a long of 60. He’s had one blocked and was the holder on a run-kick option gone awry, but the preseason All-22 didn’t lie.
Chris Hogan, wide receiver – Buffalo would be the fourth stop in Hogan’s NFL journey. The wideout, who may have used to play lacrosse, spent one season on the Bills’ practice squad and the subsequent three on active roster. Hogan accrued 87 receptions for 886 yards and six touchdowns over that span before departing to New England on a three-year, $12 million restricted offer sheet that went unmatched in March 2016. Hogan, now in the final year of that deal, has reeled in 21 passes for 284 yards and two touchdowns for the Patriots this fall.
Stephon Gilmore, cornerback – Gilmore entered the league at pick No. 10 overall in 2012, and the South Carolina corner went on to start 66 of his 68 appearances for the organization that drafted him. A Pro Bowler during his final season in Buffalo, Gilmore finished his tenure having totaled 14 interceptions – with one coming against quarterback Tom Brady – and 62 pass deflections. His five-year, $65 million pact with the Patriots has aged well.