Mario Williams, the Buffalo Bills’ star pass-rusher, returned to training camp at St. John Fisher College late Tuesday night, Bills Digest editor Mark Ludwiczak tweeted Tuesday.
The Bills confirmed the report to the Associated Press.
Williams had missed Buffalo’s first three practices. He watched from the sideline Sunday night and was absent from the team the past two days reportedly to get a second opinion on a “sore foot.”
Details about the injury have been sparse. Bills coach Doug Marrone, the only team representative who has spoken about the injury, hasn’t said which foot Williams hurt, how he hurt it or what the first diagnosis was.
Williams was checked out by Bills team doctors on Monday after reporting his foot problem to the team before Sunday’s opening training camp practice.
Williams then got a second medical opinion on the foot, according to the website ProFootballTalk.com, and no significant problem was found.
Upon meeting with the media after Tuesday’s practice, Marrone initially said he had “not had any contact with anyone in regards to Mario. … I have no information from yesterday.”
Then Marrone grew annoyed at follow-up questions about his star pass rusher.
“I appreciate that everyone has to ask that question and I totally get it, I really do,” Marrone said. “I promise you I’m telling you the truth. I really haven’t gotten any notice from the doctors or anything from above me on the situation.”
Marrone then acknowledged that Williams’ absence has been approved by the team.
“Obviously, if we sent him to get evaluations he’s been excused by the team,” Marrone said. “That’s not a legitimate question.”
The Bills worked a lot on the running game, and Kevin Kolb got the majority of the snaps at quarterback during Tuesday’s practice, the first of camp in full pads.
By unofficial count, Kolb took 38 snaps, EJ Manuel 22 and Jeff Tuel eight during the 11-on-11 session.
Manuel arguably threw the ball better than Kolb, although the veteran probably saw more blitzes than the rookie. Kolb underthrew an open Stevie Johnson on a deep ball, got a pass intercepted by Stephon Gilmore on a throw-away down the sideline and had near-pickoffs by Gilmore and T.J. Heath. He also beat the blitz with a good quick throw to C.J. Spiller.
By unofficial count, Kolb was 7 of 16 during 11-on-11 work, while Manuel was 7 of 9. Training camp completion figures are problematic, because it’s easier for a QB to rely on check-down throws and complete a higher percentage of passes. Nevertheless, Kolb’s accuracy wasn’t above average, and Manuel had a workmanlike day.
Manuel got fired up and was exhorting Marquise Goodwin after the rookie made a good grab of a bullet from the QB on a slant route. Manuel hit Da’Rick Rogers for 18 yards on an intermediate crossing pattern. He hit Brad Smith on time on a short slant.
There was no tackling to the ground, but defensive players hit the ball-carriers with a “thud” of the shoulder pads.
At one point the blocking got overheated. Cornerback Crezdon Butler took exception to the way he was being blocked by rookie receiver Robert Woods and the two went tumbling to the ground in a fight. Butler got in a few blows. Woods lost his helmet.
“We were able to really put our hands on guys when we blocked,” Woods said. “Just doing my assignment. I’m just doing my job, that’s it.”
Marrone on the first day of “real” practice in pads:
“It was good competition. We saw the level pick up a little bit, which is what you expect. I give credit to the players in doing that. And I think a couple things we need to clean up when we’re in our thud period, exactly what we want. That’s what I told them afterwards. We want to make sure we’re putting in that type of practice and keep people off the ground. I thought for the most part we did keep people off the ground.”
The 8 a.m. start to practice resulted in a smaller crowd of about 250 in the St. John Fisher college stands.
“We appreciate the patience of the fans,” Marrone said. “We have the night practices, afternoon practices to make sure we take care of them. And I appreciate the people who came out here today.”
“The mornings are really a great asset to us. Probably the best way to teach the offense, defense and special teams because we get in, we wake up in the morning and get our work done.
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