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Ryan Lewis promoted to Buffalo Bills 53-man roster

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The former Pitt cornerback is best known for his game-saving pick against Penn State in 2016

NFL: New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Former Pitt cornerback Ryan Lewis has bounced around from practice squad to practice squad since arriving in the NFL undrafted in 2017, but his career took a step forward on Tuesday afternoon, as the Buffalo Bills promoted him from their practice squad to their 53-man roster.

The team announced the roster move in a message posted on Twitter:

The move is in part a byproduct of the historic and notorious decision of former Bills cornerback Vontae Davis to abruptly retire at halftime of the team’s 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. But in addition to that, the Bills currently have a pair of defensive backs working their way back from injuries in Taron Johnson and Phillip Gaines, further necessitating the move.

Lewis arrived in Buffalo on Sept. 2 after spending the last year on the practice squad of the New England Patriots. Prior to that, he entered the league as a member of the Arizona Cardinals on May 2, 2017, but he never advanced beyond the practice squad after signing with the team.

The Pitt product played in 51 games with the Panthers over four years, but he is best known for his exploits during his senior season. In addition to posting eight pass breakups and coming up with 79 tackles, Lewis also reeled in two clutch interceptions as a member of the Pitt secondary. The first was a memorable game-saver that came toward the end of Pitt’s 42-39 win over Penn State, and the other came early in the team’s 43-42 upset of Clemson the same year.

In Buffalo, Lewis will be reunited with former Pitt teammate Lafayette Pitts, who is currently listed as a second-stringer at cornerback on the team’s official depth chart. The Bills are also the team of former Pitt running back LeSean McCoy and quarterback Nathan Peterman.

For the time being, Lewis’ path to the field appears to be blocked by current Bills starter Tre’Davious White and Pitts. Even Gaines, who suffered a dislocated elbow on Sunday, hasn’t been ruled out of the team’s upcoming road matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. With that in mind, Lewis’ window of opportunity to prove himself seems small. But at the least, it’s a start.