The Buffalo Bills took a calculated risk in releasing safety Dean Marlowe this week.
Given how well Marlowe played in spot duty during the Week 5 win over Tennessee, there was at least a chance he would have caught the eye of one of the other 31 teams. When the Bills released Marlowe on Tuesday to make room for quarterback Derek Anderson, any one of those teams could have plucked him off waivers. Marlowe, however, made it through and rejoined the Bills’ practice squad.
“That's always a concern,” coach Sean McDermott said of making such a transaction. “Really appreciate the way he prepared, he was ready to go. We always worry about things like that, but overall it's a numbers thing.”
With both Micah Hyde (groin) and Rafael Bush (shoulder) returning to practice this week on a limited basis, the Bills could have their top four safeties back in Week 6.
That made Marlowe the odd man out, even after he had four tackles and one pass defensed in the 13-12 win over the Titans, playing every snap.
“It's weird,” Marlowe said of going from that to cut two days later. “Every week, I prepare like I'm playing. Just to know that they told me there was a high percentage of me playing this past week, I took my preparation to another level. Had a great week of practice, played extremely solid in the game, now to find out I'm cut the next day and back on the practice squad. That's a lot of mind games, but you've just got to control what you can control and keep going.”
Marlowe had no idea what to expect after playing the Titans, but left the game even more confident he’s got the ability to play in the NFL.
“I'm a good player. I'm a competitor, also,” he said. “I'm like, 'I deserve to be out there,' for sure, whether it's here or whether it's anywhere, I deserve to be on the field playing because I know how good I can be. But I'm here now just to consume and take in everything I can.”
That didn’t lessen the sting Tuesday.
“I'm human. There's going to be disappointment when you work so hard for something, you get an opportunity, and your opportunity is taken away from you,” Marlowe said. “There's trials and tribulations for everything in this world. We love football so much, and when that's taken away for a little bit, it hurts. ... It's about staying mentally tough.”
Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith addressed the team before the start of Thursday’s practice.
“It was an honor for us,” McDermott said. “We understand the tradition here, and that's part of it, is connecting our players to the past, in particular the early ’90s. He's arguably the best pass rusher of all time, so he's certainly done something right for the years. Any time those guys come around, love having them connect with the team.
McDermott had been in touch with Smith over the last month or so to coordinate his practice visit. The Bills’ coach is 44 years old, so he was in high school during the Bills’ Super Bowl years.
“To garner 200 sacks, you know, I can't even fathom 200 sacks,” McDermott said. “It's amazing. … That's why he is where he is, right? We thought it might work for us, and it did, so just an honor for us to hear him speak and to be in his presence was great.”
The Bills listed Tre’Davious White (ankle), Hyde (groin) and Bush (shoulder) as limited practice participants Thursday.
“They'll remain day to day,” McDermott said. “I thought they all got some work in today. We've got to continue to move that thing forward as we go through the week here.
Right guard John Miller was added to the injury report as a limited participant because of an ankle injury, while tight end Charles Clay was given a veteran rest day.