PITTSFORD – Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus acknowledged he needs to earn the trust of his teammates in a statement released by the team Wednesday.
“After dealing with a personal matter in Alabama, I am excited to return to training camp to rejoin my teammates in our preparations for the 2014 season. Right now, my focus is on earning the trust of my teammates, coaches and the fans while continuing to improve as a football player. I have a passion for this game and I want to be here to help this organization achieve its goals. There are things I need to work on professionally and personally to make sure I can be accountable to myself, my family, this team and this community. My focus will remain on achieving that goal one day at a time. I want to thank the Bills organization, Coach Marrone and the coaching staff, my teammates and our fans for their continued support.”
The statement came out the morning after Dareus returned to St. John Fisher College. He had appeared in an Alabama court Monday on charges stemming from a May traffic arrest. At the court hearing, he was accepted into a pre-trail program that could result in the dismissal of charges of possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. Dareus is in the NFL’s anti-drug program. He could face a suspension from the NFL as a result of his arrest.
Dareus, 24, also faces numerous traffic charges as a result of a May 30 driving incident in Hamburg in which his car crashed, and he allegedly was street racing.
During Wednesday’s practice, Dareus worked on conditioning exercises on the side with team trainers. He’s not practicing with his teammates because he wasn’t in good enough shape to pass a conditioning test upon reporting to camp. He will be back on the field once he passes the test. Fellow defensive tackle Alan Branch also needs to pass the conditioning test and was working on the side with Dareus.
Coach Doug Marrone said fullback Evan Rodriguez and tight end Chris Gragg were hospitalized Tuesday after suffering from heat-related symptoms. Rodriguez was back with the team Wednesday but did not practice. Gragg was still in the hospital.
The Bills have today off. They practice in the evening both Friday and Saturday, but no more tickets are available for those sessions.
Rookie receiver Sammy Watkins had a nifty catch in pass-route drills – with no defense – early in the practice. He stumbled out of his break on a short post pattern, almost fell, then regained his balance enough to reach up and make a one-handed catch in the middle of the end zone.
In 11-on-11 drills, he had a leaping end-zone grab of a pass of about 25 yards from EJ Manuel. He went up over safety Aaron Williams and cornerback Leodis McKelvin to make the catch. However, the play probably would have been aborted by a Jerry Hughes sack. Hughes blew around left tackle Seantrel Henderson on the play.
The Bills worked a lot on red-zone situations. Manuel had a better day throwing than on Tuesday but still was average overall.
He hit C.J. Spiller in good stride on a pass up the left sideline for a touchdown in 7 on 7. On the next play, he hit Watkins in perfect stride on a short slant but the receiver dropped it. Manuel hit Robert Woods on a pretty TD up the right sideline for a 25-yard play.
Shortly after Manuel had two red zone plays in which his first read wasn’t open, he did not react quickly and took sacks. One was by Stefan Charles. Later in 11-on-11 work, safety Kenny Ladler broke free into Manuel’s face, there was pressure up the middle, and the ball somehow popped into the hands of Xavius Boyd for what would have been a defensive TD.
Coach Doug Marrone on the offense:
“Well, I’m not going to get into a daily performance, whether it was good or bad, but obviously there’s some things execution wise we did better today, but at the same time, we still have a long way to go.”