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Examining the roster ties between Patriots, Bills ahead of Week 16

Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff at Gillette Stadium brings familiarity.

New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills at New Era Field Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The 10-4 Buffalo Bills will revisit the 11-3 New England Patriots for a Saturday kickoff.

And the ties between the playoff-bound AFC Easters will, too.

Beyond the coaching likes of Brian Daboll and Ryan Wendell, a total of six players stand among the ties on the active rosters, the practice squads and the reserve lists. Three were once Patriots. Another three were once Bills. And not all are the same as they were back in September.

Here’s a glance heading into 4:30 p.m. ET at Gillette Stadium.


Lee Smith, tight end – New England selected the Marshall tight end in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft. Since then, Smith has appeared in 121 career games. None of which came during his Patriots stint. Smith would be waived by New England following his rookie preseason and claimed by Buffalo. The 31-year-old then logged four seasons with the Bills, four seasons with the Oakland Raiders, and returned to Orchard Park on a three-year, $9 million pact in March. Smith’s NFL itinerary includes 60 receptions for 423 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s eclipsed 70 starts. He’ll soon play January football for the first time.

LaAdrian Waddle, offensive tackle – The Bills placed Waddle on injured reserve after the 28-year-old swing tackle sustained a torn quadriceps in August. Waddle had arrived via the Patriots on a one-year contract worth $2 million in the spring, and did so having checked into 31 games for New England dating back to December 2015. The Patriots claimed Waddle from the Detroit Lions at that time. The undrafted Texas Tech product started eight games thenceforth, including the 2017 AFC divisional round versus the Tennessee Titans.

Corey Bojorquez, punter – New England’s plans to retain Bojorquez, a 2018 invite to rookie minicamp, went away as waiver claims were awarded that Labor Day weekend. The ex-Cerritos College and New Mexico punter found himself in Buffalo before any designs for the practice squad reached fruition. Bojorquez never handled a long snap in a preseason game for the Patriots. He’d play in eight games during his rookie regular season with Buffalo before going to IR after a matchup with New England. And this year, Bojorquez has punted 67 times, while averaging 42.3 yards per, with a long of 67 yards.


Marshall Newhouse, offensive tackle – Newhouse has started nine games for New England this season, with the initial one coming in place of right tackle Marcus Cannon and the subsequent eight in place of left tackle Isaiah Wynn. The Patriots marked the seventh team for the TCU alum. Newhouse had been a Green Bay Packer, Cincinnati Bengal, New York Giant, Oakland Raider, Carolina Panther and New Orleans Saint. And as free agency got underway in 2018, he would be a Bill. Newhouse, 30, saw action in three contests for Buffalo that fall. A trade sent him to Carolina in exchange for a conditional 2021 selection.

Eric Lee, defensive end – The Patriots signed Lee to the 53-man roster by way of the Bills’ practice squad back in November 2017. The 25-year-old out of South Florida returned to New England as a member of the practice squad just last week. That remains his current capacity. But Lee’s first stop in Foxborough included six games and five starts. And by the conclusion of the regular season, it also included 3.5 sacks, with a safety, to go with an interception and 19 tackles. Lee saw 16 snaps for the defensive front in Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles. He would go on to spend parts of the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Detroit Lions between the active roster and scout team.

Stephon Gilmore, cornerback – Thus far into a repeat first-team All-Pro campaign, Gilmore stands with a career-high six interceptions and with two returned for six. The South Carolina cornerback, picked No. 10 overall by the Bills in 2012, joined the Patriots on a five-year, $65 million agreement as the 2017 league year began. Gilmore started 66 of the 68 games he entered with Buffalo, and was a named a Pro Bowler for the first time during his final season with the organization. The 29-year-old has gone on to start every game he’s been active for since arriving in New England. Saturday looms as his sixth start against Buffalo.