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Contrite Dareus says teammates have his back

PITTSFORD – A contrite-sounding Marcell Dareus said Wednesday a missed drug test prompted the four-game suspension he received from the NFL for violating its substance-abuse policy.

The Buffalo Bills’ defensive tackle said he was informed of the suspension, which the league announced Tuesday, right after Saturday night’s preseason-opening loss against the Indianapolis Colts. Under NFL rules, a missed test is viewed the same as one that renders a positive result.

Dareus already was in the league’s substance-abuse program, and, therefore, subject to random testing.

“Words don’t mean anything now,” Dareus told reporters after practice at the Bills’ St. John Fisher College training camp. “It’s all actions.”

Dareus, who took part in the practice, said he has the full support of his teammates.

“My team loves me to death,” he said. “And they know what kind of person I am and they know who I am. And they’re not on the outside looking in. They know who I am and they have my back.

“They said, ‘Marcell, we’re going to hold it down (during the suspension) and we’re going to make sure everything’s OK. We know you’re going to be around, you’re going to support us and (we) know you’re going to help us regardless and you’re going to be ready.’ And that’s just what it is.”

After issuing a harshly worded statement on Tuesday that painted Dareus as a selfish player, the team was in more of a supportive mood Wednesday.

“It’s frustration and disappointment,” General Manager Doug Whaley said after practice Wednesday. “But this guy’s family. And I know Western New Yorkers are big on family values and we will not give up on a family member, especially in a time of need. That’s the easy thing to do.”

Coach Rex Ryan said he and others within the Bills felt a combination of disappointment and frustration with Dareus.

“Every teammate, from top to bottom, and I’m sure our fans are feeling the same way,” Ryan said. “We all know the kind of player that Marcell is, and you know what? Marcell is a good person, too, but he’s got to make better choices, he’s got to make better decisions, and understand that it affects the whole football team and not just himself and so I think that’s it’s better choices.”

Dareus disputed the notion that he put himself before the team.

“I put myself last, for the most part,” Dareus said. “I’m a big-hearted person and I never put myself first. I mean, you watch me play you’ll see that. It’s not about me. I sacrifice myself and sacrifice myself for my family.

“And so it’s never about me, but everyone makes dumb decisions. Nobody’s perfect. At the same time, I’m just going to continue to work and move forward. … Talk is cheap. We can say anything, y’all will see me when I get back.”

Two of the Bills’ first four games are against AFC East opponents, the New York Jets at home on Sept. 15, and the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., on Oct. 2.

How difficult is it for Dareus to know he is not going to play in those divisional showdowns?

“I can’t even express how I feel about that,” he said. “I give my life to this team, so it’s hard to even watch these guys practice knowing I can’t really be a part of it the way I want to.”

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Manny Lawson denied a report by The Buffalo News that he is under investigation by the NFL and faces a possible one-game suspension for an alleged domestic incident.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Lawson said after practice at St. John Fisher. “I’ve reached out to the NFL, reached out to the organization, and we’re trying to get to the bottom of it.”

Asked for his reaction when he was made aware of the report, Lawson said, “What’s going on? I didn’t hear anything, I don’t know anything, I don’t know what’s going on.

“It came out of nowhere. My girlfriend sent me the tweet, and I saw the tweet and I’m shocked just like everybody else is.”

email: vcarucci@buffnews.com

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