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Bills coaches want to change training staff; front office might not agree

INDIANAPOLIS -- Buffalo Bills coaches want to change the organization's old-school culture, but they seem to be encountering internal resistance.

Key members of the staff have told me they want to update the training staff by replacing long-time head athletic trainer Bud Carpenter, but the front office is reluctant to support a switch.

Within the past few days at the NFL scouting combine, coach Doug Marrone and General Manager Doug Whaley have stressed player health is a top priority for the organization in 2014.

Marrone and Whaley also are said to be highly interested in changing the Bills' this-is-the-way-we've-always-done-it culture.

Carpenter has been a fixture with the Bills. He's entering his 30th season with the team and his 19th as its head trainer.

But the Bills' coaching staff is much younger than Carpenter is. When Carpenter was getting his start with the Bills, most of the current coaches were teenagers.

Sources told me at the NFL scouting combine the coaching staff is weary of Carpenter's old-school methodology. These sources believe Carpenter's "stim and ice" therapy is too outdated for today's athlete.

"Stim and ice" refers to electrical stimulation to the injured area and ice treatments.

The Bills have struggled with injuries previously, although last year was a relatively healthy one.

Still, rookie quarterback EJ Manuel missed eight games (two preseason, six regular season) with three knee injuries.

Marrone declared after the third knee injury that Manuel would start the season finale against the New England Patriots and stated the medical staff told him Manuel would not require surgery.

Manuel did not play against the Patriots and revealed three weeks ago he had another knee surgery.

Marrone and Whaley have indicated the Bills want to make sure Manuel has all the tools he'll need. The Bills have hired additional coaches and have spoken about bolstering his supporting cast.

Running back C.J. Spiller, safety Jairus Byrd and cornerback Stephon Gilmore also dealt with nagging injuries throughout the season.

The Pro Football Athletic Trainers Society honored Carpenter's staff with its annual award in 2007 for its response to tight end Kevin Everett's catastrophic injury, although team orthopedist Andrew Cappuccino and rehab specialists largely were responsible for Everett's recovery.

Prior to joining the Bills in 1985, Carpenter worked for one year with the Boston Bruins and served eight years as SUNY-Fredonia's trainer and intramurals director.

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