Marcell Dareus has returned in the nick of time for the Buffalo Bills. Fresh off his one-game suspension — and a contract that includes $60 million guaranteed — the defensive tackle returns for a Week 2 AFC East showdown with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
"Knowing that Brady's going to be out there just gives it a little bit more fire," he said.
Because, well, the Bills are not fans of the Pats. Not many are outside of Boston.
"Don't nobody like the Patriots," Dareus said, laughing. "Let's just be honest about it now. Put it out there."
That was a common sentiment in the Bills locker room Tuesday. For years, the Patriots have owned them, owned the division. So for all of the excitement over knocking off the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener, players still know they have to overtake New England to return to relevancy. Before thinking about the playoffs, the Super Bowl, anything, they have to beat New England.
And re-signing Dareus long term is a big part of that. Not including the Week 17 win over Brady's back-up, the last time the Bills beat New England was Sept. 25, 2011.
Brady is still Brady. Even at 38 years old, even after a "Deflategate" saga.
"I like playing against him," Dareus said. "I like that competition and he's a good guy. He brings a lot to the game."
Not that players "like" this team, though.
Dareus isn't alone. Elsewhere, safety Aaron Williams was just as direct.
“I don't like New England so, yeah, it’s definitely personal for me,” Williams said. "Me saying that may run a lot of stories. But that’s just the way I feel. They’re a great football team. Don’t get that twisted at all. They wouldn't be the four-time NFL champs for no reason. ... They have a lot of guys we need to take care of but we have a lot of guys who can take care of that.
“Just the way they carry themselves on the field and stuff. All the stuff that has happened to me in the past with some of the players has definitely gone through the roof for me. That’s a reason it’s personal for me and they’re our rival. So it’s not just personal. It’s about the Buffalo Bills' history.”
This should be an interesting week.
After inking his huge contract, Dareus had to wait. He took in the Bills' 27-14 win on Sunday from his couch.
This is a 25-year-old who was stopped for speeding in May 2014 and charged with two drug felonies. Dareus said then wasn’t a “trouble” guy and then crashed his car on Milestrip Road in a street racing incident two days later. On Tuesday, he insisted he has changed.
"I'm happy I turned my life around," Dareus said, "and really just kind of put the best foot forward. I know I'm young and stuff happens, but at the same time, I'm just happy to know I'm making the right decisions."
Dareus wasn't happy when negotiations broke down in late August, saying "I feel like they don't really want me here." Getting the deal done, he added Tuesday, took a weight off his shoulders. He called signing the deal "emotional."
"I've been a man of my words since I've been here," Dareus added. "I'm going to try my best and whatever's going to happen, however we're going to do it, I'm still going to try my best and put my best foot forward on any field I would have stepped on."
He can start with the Patriots.