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Bills notebook: Whaley speaks but nothing new on Harvin

LONDON -- Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley offered no new details Friday on the status of wide receiver Percy Harvin, who did not accompany the team on its trip here for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville.

Whaley echoed the explanation of coach Rex Ryan, saying it was “still a personal reason that he’s out.” The Buffalo News reported Thursday that Harvin, who missed last Sunday’s game against Cincinnati with a hip injury, is contemplating retirement because of the lingering hip problem.

“We’ll address it as soon as we get more answers on it,” Whaley said in his first comments of the season to media covering the Bills.

Asked when he expected to get more answers, Whaley said, “We’re not sure right now.” He said “there were a lot of other things that are going on that it’s not strictly injury related.”

Whaley said the Bills found out early last week that Harvin needed “to take some time for personal reasons.” He said the team hasn’t been in contact with him this week, keeping its focus on Sunday’s game.

“And then when we get back, we’ll reach out to him and see where he is,” Whaley said.

Members of the Bills’ receiving corps, including Robert Woods, are known to have reached out to Harvin to let him know he has their support, according to an NFL source. The coaching staff is known to be perplexed by the whole situation, believing that, with so much talent, Harvin should want to continue playing.

Without Harvin and Sammy Watkins, who will be sidelined with an ankle injury, the Bills are down to Woods, Chris Hogan, and Denarius Moore as their primary three receivers.

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The veteran Plan B at quarterback was traded away to the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 22. Maybe Matt Cassel would’ve helped the Bills get through this rough patch. With starter Tyrod Taylor nursing his sprained MCL, Manuel starts for a second straight week.

Whaley stood by the decision.

While there was debate internally, the Bills went with Manuel and Whaley has no regrets.

“No, not at all,” Whaley said. “When you look at it, coming out of camp, arguably you could say he was the No. 2. So we had an opportunity to come back with Cassel at a reduced rate and have three quarterbacks. If you look at the league, a little over half the league had three quarterbacks so it’s a luxury.”

On Friday, when asked if everyone was in agreement philosophically in trading Cassel, Whaley said “I believe so,” though added “we’re going to have internal debate but we have external unity.”

So Manuel starts again, this time in London against Jacksonville. Cassel? He’ll start Sunday for the Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants.

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Aaron Kromer is back from a six-week suspension that cost the Bills’ offensive line coach plenty of money in lost salary and could very well have cost the team because of his missing hands-on involvement.

“It’s great to have him back because he’s a great football coach and a huge linchpin of the staff,” said Roman, adding that he pushed hard for the Bills to hire Kromer “because of his expertise and experience.”

The Bills had to go without both through their 3-3 start because of an incident last July in which Kromer allegedly punched a teenage boy in Florida. Although charges were dropped, the Bills punished him with a suspension that resulted in his having to give up roughly $127,000 in pay.

Kromer wasn’t part of any practices or meetings during that time, but he did keep track of what his offensive linemen were doing on the field by studying coaches’ video of all of the games.

“I’ve seen every game, I’ve seen every snap,” he said. “And I know where we are as a team and as a line, and I’m doing everything I can to help. We’re working on the things that we’ve seen on tape that we need to work on.”

Despite the inconsistent performance of the Bills’ offensive line, Kromer has plenty of thoughts on how it can improve. He says it’s a matter of developing continuity, which continues to be challenge with both starters on the right side – tackle Seantrel Henderson (concussion) and guard John Miller (death in the family – due to miss Sunday’s game against Jacksonville.

“That’s the thing that hits you in the face when you’re watching the tape,” he said. “We’re not, as an offense, consistent enough, but we can be. And that’s what we’re working toward. The more consistency we have with guys playing, personnel working together in a new offense, it’s going to grow as time grows. You can practice all offseason, you can practice all preseason. And when the games come, then you really get the sense of where you are. Then you miss a guy here and there, and next guy up’s got to fill in and be able to have learned what the other guy might not have done successfully or had success with.”

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When Doug Marrone abruptly left the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 31, 2014, players were not exactly drowned in their sorrows.

Safety Aaron Williams tweeted “Lost all respect!! Completely (ticked) off, but not gonna let it ruin my New Years.”

They viewed his exit as abandonment.

Ryan stormed into town. And while this injury-hit team is at 3-3, with many question marks, players all agree the change was refreshing.

Out was Marrone’s college-like approach; in was Ryan’s hands-off approach. Buffalo leads the league in penalties, so who knows if the change is for the better in the win column. Time will tell. But on Friday, two days before meeting Marrone again, multiple players indicated they feel treated like adults now. Before, under Marrone, they did not.

“He was more college-y,” inside linebacker Preston Brown said. “Coming from Syracuse, he kind of controlled guys instead of letting us be grown men and do what we’ve got to do.”

They cite several examples. Ryan, Brown repeats, is more a “player’s coach.”

“It was that college thing,” Brown said. “You had to check in and be in this meeting five minutes early — that kind of thing. Now, it’s kind of more lax. He trusts us more.”

Added tight end Chris Gragg, “It has been a little bit more refreshing because he does treat us like professionals. Some the day-to-day things he’d run it like it’s college. But we were grown men. As long as we’re handling our business on the field, that’s really our main objective — what we’re here for.”

And Marrone didn’t.

“I would just say he treated us not like we were men,” Gragg said. “Kind of like we were still in college.”

Under Marrone, players were told to be quiet on the team bus and wear suits to home and away games. Everything was much more disciplined.

“With Rex, home games especially, you’re coming from home early in the morning, you don’t have to wear a suit,” Gragg said.

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Veteran Kraig Urbik is expected to start in Miller’s place at right guard.

The Bills also re-signed kickoff specialist Jordan Gay, who was released when the Bills signed Billy Cundiff for one game. To make room for Gay on the roster, they released safety Josh Bush.

Rreceiver Marcus Easley (shoulder) and cornerback Leodis McKelvin (ankle) are listed as questionable.

email: vcarucci@buffnews.com email: tdunne@buffnews.

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