ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Two-time Pro-Bowl nose tackle Marcell Dareus, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft, continues to be an enigma for the Buffalo Bills.
Coming off what was basically a lost season as he missed eight games due to suspension and injury, Dareus started training camp with two decent practices before heading to the sideline with a hamstring injury. He’s been sidelined the last three workouts.
“Any time players miss time, you get concerned, whether it’s Marcell or anyone else,” head coach Sean McDermott said Saturday morning when he announced the injury. “I’m going to stay positive with it.”
Dareus has given the Bills headaches through the years with his immaturity, run-ins with the law, and injuries. The talent is there. In fact, the Bills believed in him so much, he is the highest-paid player on the team, by far. But his availability is too often in question, and it looks like he’s off to another inauspicious start in 2017.
“He’s done a great job,” said McDermott. “Credit to him and I think (defensive line coach Mike) Waufle and coach (Bill) Teerlinck, they’ve done a great job and Shone (Gipson) and his (training) staff, the training room has done a phenomenal job. With the way he came to camp, the shape he was in. We’ll take it from there and stay aggressive with it and we look forward to getting him back on the field.”
–Linebacker/special teamer Lorenzo Alexander is basically the polar opposite of Dareus in that he is a guy who is always available, always accountable, and puts in a great day’s work every single time he steps on the field, whether it’s practice or games. McDermott has only been around him a few months, but he loves his work ethic.
“You know, you wish you had more Lorenzos,” McDermott said. “What more could you say about an individual? He puts the team first. He wants to play special teams, which he’s a phenomenal special teams player and that really typifies our football team, in terms of unselfish, he’s going to do whatever’s asked, he understands the importance of special teams and how important winning games is.”
Alexander joined the team last season, primarily to be a special teamer and backup outside linebacker in Rex Ryan’s defense. Instead, he became a starter on defense who had a career season with 12.5 sacks that landed him a Pro-Bowl berth. This year in McDermott’s 4-3, he’s a true outside linebacker with pass coverage and run game responsibilities, but he’s fine with the change of scheme.
“The coaches will find the best way to utilize all my skill sets as well as other guys and putting packages (together),” Alexander said. “Just seeing every flow of the game because I’d still like to play special teams, I want to be on punt and kickoff coverage because that’s something I’m great at doing; I an impact the game there as well.”
McDermott said he believes Alexander will continue to excel. “He had a phenomenal year last year on defense in terms of production, so we’re going to use him, and put him, like the rest of the players, in positions of strength and one of those is attacking the quarterback coming off the football,” said McDermott. “Once he gets comfortable with the system, the foundation of it, we’ll get a little bit more creative from there. But he is a big part of what we do from a leadership standpoint, one of the big leaders of the football team.”
Notes: Cornerback Ronald Darby sat out two practices due to an ankle injury, but he was back on Tuesday. … Defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, who did not endear himself to Sean McDermott with his arrest on a weapons charge a few weeks before camp started, got some first-team reps in place of the injured Dareus. … Wide receiver Sammy Watkins participated fully in all the practices and looks like he’s getting back to full speed and showing his ability. … Center Ryan Groy has looked very good in one-on-one drills and the Bills seem happy with him as a backup at both center and guard. There are even some rumblings that he could push Eric Wood for the starting center job. … Wide receiver/punt returner Brandon Tate hurt his calf and he has been sidelined the past couple days. … Linebacker Reggie Ragland has not seen any first-team work at MLB. Preston Brown has that job, and Ragland has not made a move yet which is somewhat surprising. … Quarterback Nathan Peterman, the rookie fifth-round pick, is getting some reps with the second team, but it is clear that TJ Yates is the No. 2 man behind Tyrod Taylor. … Cornerback Tre’Davious White, the first-round rookie, struggles in coverage as he tries to get used to the different route combinations. … Wide receiver Rod Streater made a couple nice plays that opened some eyes, but he must continue doing that if he hopes to make the team.