Marcell Dareus will be back at practice on limited basis Wednesday, a sign the Bills defensive tackle has made incremental improvement after suffering a sprained ankle. Coach Sean McDermott wasn't sure whether Dareus would be ready against the Falcons after sitting out Buffalo's win over Denver.
Dareus hasn't been right since last season, when he was suspended for four games, returned out of shape and played only eight games. To say he was a non-factor would be inaccurate considering his absence and subsequent distractions he caused were a major factor in the defense struggling under Rex Ryan.
The Bills could use him now more than any time this season. He's making about $1 million a game and is the highest-paid defensive player in franchise history. It would be nice if the Bills started getting more return on their investment, starting Sunday against the defending NFL champions and their high-powered offense.
Dareus will be back on the field while two other veterans on defense, Kyle Williams and Lorenzo Alexander, enjoy a day of rest. Defensive Jerel Worthy returned from concussion protocol. Left tackle Cordy Glenn (foot) remains sidelined.
McDermott has insisted several times that Dareus has made a full commitment to the game. But given his problems over the years, and a bank account that was full beyond his wildest expectations, questions remain about his passion for football. He hasn't been anywhere near justifying the money.
However, when he's right, he's among the most dominant defensive linemen in the NFL. In 2014, in a contract year, he had 10 sacks. For the past three years, he has been Exhibit A for a team that had too many overpaid, underachieving players who contributed more to salary-cap problems than winning.
The Bills view him as a reclamation project. If they succeed in getting him back to his maximum potential, their solid defense could be even better.