Veteran running back Dominic Rhodes was released Saturday by the Buffalo Bills, who continued shaking up their offense a day after firing coordinator Turk Schonert.
Rhodes' agent, Todd France, confirmed his client had been released earlier in the day, before the team announced Rhodes was among the 18 players cut in order for the team to establish its 53-player roster.
Aside from Rhodes, the only other notable player released was veteran offensive lineman Kirk Chambers, who had been a versatile backup capable of filling in at tackle and guard.
As expected, second-year receiver James Hardy was placed on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list after spending the entire preseason on PUP after having knee surgery in December. Under NFL rules, the second-round pick out of Indiana will have an opportunity to start practicing after Week 6 to determine whether he will be activated.
Rhodes' release was considered a surprise as he was expected to serve as a primary backup to Fred Jackson to open the season at New England on Sept. 14, while starter Marshawn Lynch serves an NFL-imposed three-game suspension.
The Bills did not make any officials available for comment. The team returns to practice Sunday after having two days off following a 17-6 loss to Detroit.
The Bills' offense is in flux with quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt taking over play-calling duties following Schonert's dismissal. Buffalo finished the preseason with a 1-4 record and its first-team offense was held to scoring 3 points in 15 series.
Among the notables who made the team are undrafted rookie free agent linebacker Ashlee Palmer. The Bills also kept 11 defensive backs, including veteran Drayton Florence, who missed the past three weeks with a knee injury.
Rhodes' departure leaves Buffalo with only two experienced running backs _ Jackson and second-year player Xavier Omon _ on its roster.
Jackson missed the final two preseason games with a sprained left wrist, but had resumed practicing this past week. Omon did not return after hurting his calf in a 17-6 preseason loss to Detroit on Thursday.
Rhodes, who won a Super Bowl with Indianapolis in 2007, was entering his ninth NFL season after signing a two-year contract as a free agent with Buffalo in April. He was due to make a base salary of $750,000 this season and $1.25 million next year.
In appearing in four of Buffalo's five preseason games, Rhodes had 19 carries for 64 yards and added four catches for 21 yards. Rhodes also returned four kickoffs for 87 yards and one lost fumble.
His experience and versatility in the passing game were considered well-suited for the Bills' newly installed no-huddle attack, which also used running backs as receivers.
Of the Bills eight rookie draft picks, sixth-round selection, defensive back Cary Harris, was the only one not to make the team.
Linebacker Alvin Bowen, a 2008 fifth-round draft pick, was also released following a failed bid to win a roster spot after missing all of last season with a knee injury.
The Bills also released defensive linemen Copeland Bryan, Ataefiok Etukeren, Derrick Jones and Corey Mace; receivers C.J. Hawthorne and Felton Huggins; tight ends Tyson DeVree and Jonathan Stupar; offensive linemen Christian Gaddis and Nick Hennessey; fourth-string quarterback Matt Baker; running back Bruce Hall; and linebacker Ryan Manalac.
Offensive lineman Brandon Rodd was waived/injured, while linebacker John DiGiorgio has been waived/failed physical.
The Bills already made one move on Friday, trading safety Ko Simpson to the Lions.