ORCHARD PARK — Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus received coach Sean McDermott’s message loud and clear after being forced to fly home alone for violating a team rule.
Without revealing what rule he broke, Dareus said he takes full responsibility and added he’s “crystal clear” of what’s expected of him following a lengthy conversation with McDermott following practice on Sunday.
“We got a clear understanding of us moving forward and how we’re going to handle things,” he said. “I’m focusing on zoning in wholeheartedly and any confusion I have, I’m coming straight to him to make sure the water’s clear.”
This was Dareus’ first transgression since McDermott was hired in January, but hardly his first misstep since being selected by Buffalo with the third pick in the 2011 draft.
Dareus opened each of the past two seasons serving NFL suspensions — including a four-game ban last year — for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. During a four-week span in May 2014, he was arrested on a drug-possession charge and then accused of drag-racing after crashing his vehicle into a tree.
The drug charges were dropped after Dareus agreed to enter an NFL substance abuse program. He also reached an agreement to have the crash-related charges reduced to driving violations.
And then there were the two times he was benched for being late to team meetings under former coach Doug Marrone.
Though aware of Dareus’ track record, McDermott said he didn’t hold the past against him.
“I’m not as interested in that as I am where we’re going in the future,” he said. “My hope is he’ll learn from last night’s situation and we’ll move forward.”
He called the decision to order Dareus to travel home on his own as being “the right thing for this football team,” and also something he didn’t want to deal with at that time because he was focused on preparing for the game.
“Everyone needs to know what’s expected, and everyone’s accountable, myself included,” McDermott said. “I’m not looking to send a message other than do the right thing.”
Defensive end Jerry Hughes said McDermott stressed the need for player accountability during a team meeting before practice.
“We understand that rules are rules and when you violate them there are consequences,” Hughes said. “We understand how if we want to go out there and win games we have to do things better. We’re more focused about how we can come together as a team.”
McDermott has other concerns beyond Dareus. The most immediate is the team’s sudden shortage of quarterbacks as it prepares to close the preseason hosting Detroit on Thursday.
McDermott revealed third-stringer T.J. Yates joined starter Tyrod Taylor in being evaluated for a concussion after both were hurt in a 13-9 loss at Baltimore.
Yates completed the game and McDermott wasn’t sure when the quarterback was injured. Taylor was hurt on Buffalo’s second offensive series when the back of his helmet bounced hard off the turf while being sacked by Matthew Judon.
McDermott was unable to provide a timetable as to when Taylor or Yates can be cleared to play.
That leaves fifth-round draft pick Nathan Peterman as the Bills’ only healthy quarterback.
McDermott said he and general manager Brandon Beane have discussed the possibility of signing another quarterback.
“The quarterback position this week will be an interesting one,” he said. “We obviously have to go in with more than one.”
The Bills have dealt with their fair share of distractions during the past three weeks.
It’s a stretch during which Anquan Boldin was signed on Aug. 7 before the veteran receiver abruptly retired two weeks later to focus his attention on social justice and humanitarian causes. Starting receiver Sammy Watkins and starting cornerback Ronald Darby were traded in two separate deals on Aug. 11. Receiver Jordan Matthews has not yet been fully cleared for practice since chipping a bone in his sternum in his first practice after being acquired for Darby in a trade with Philadelphia.