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Doug Marrone blows up on Bills for practice fights

Doug Marrone BillsBuffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone went off on his players on Thursday following a series of fights and shoving matches during practice. After Wednesday’s practice had ended with a spirited fight, Marrone was in no mood to tolerate unnecessary scuffles.

When things got heated on Thursday, Marrone lined his players up like high schoolers and made them run sprints. When defensive end Jerry Hughes talked back to Marrone, the head coach started slinging profanity that appeared to be directed toward the fifth year veteran.

“Why can’t you handle it as players?” Marrone yelled while motioning toward the locker room, according to ESPN.com. “Do you want to play on this team?”

Marrone, who spent some time chatting with Hughes after practice, said his rant was not directed at one player in particular.

“That’s directed at anyone who doesn’t want to be part of the team,” he explained. “I told Jerry that I love the way he practices and I love the way he plays special teams and how he goes about it. And we’ve got to get some other guys who are starters to do that.”

Fights are very common for NFL teams during training camp, but the Bills seem to have had quite a few this offseason. On Wednesday, rookie defensive end Bryan Johnson ripped off offensive lineman Eric Wood’s helmet and several veterans jumped in to defend Wood. The center ended up with a cut on his nose.

“Figure it out. We’re responsible for the integrity of the game,” Marrone said. “There is no use for fighting in the game of football. Period. End of discussion.”

Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett was suspended earlier this month for slamming a rookie down during practice, so, again, this stuff is not exclusive to the Bills. That said, we usually don’t coaches handle the disciplinary action in front of the media. Marrone had obviously seen enough.

Bills tried to trade up to No. 1 for Sammy Watkins

Sammy-Watkins-ClemsonHow high were the Buffalo Bills on Sammy Watkins heading into the draft? They had to trade a first round and fourth round pick in next year’s draft to the Cleveland Browns in order to move from No. 9 to No. 4. That’s a fairly steep price, but the Bills were willing to spend even more. Earlier this week, Bills director of player personnel Jim Monos admitted the team tried to acquire the top overall pick.

“We went with Houston right off the bat,” Monos said, via Pro Football Talk. “We tried to go to No. 1. They weren’t having it. They knew who they wanted, so we started working our way right down.”

The Bills really, really love Watkins. On Monday, St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead said he had discussions with a team that wanted to move to No. 2. It’s now safe to assume that team was the Bills, who were concerned that the Jacksonville Jaguars — in need of wide receiver help in the wake of the Justin Blackmon disaster — might take Watkins at No. 3.

“We really didn’t know,” Monos said. “Jacksonville never tipped it. We had just heard so much that they needed a receiver. We thought that this was going to be Sammy. We knew that if Jacksonville didn’t take him we had a shot.”

Plenty of teams call to inquire about moving up and back in the days and hours leading up to the draft, but the effort the Bills made to secure Watkins is noteworthy. They obviously would have been extremely disappointed if they somehow missed out on the former Clemson star.

Donald Trump serious about buying Buffalo Bills

Donald TrumpDonald Trump has emerged as one of the potential buyers of the Buffalo Bills, and the well known TV personality and businessman says he is serious about buying the team.

“I’m going to give it a heavy shot,” Trump told The Buffalo News’ Tim Graham on Monday. “I would love to do it, and if I can do it I’m keeping it in Buffalo.”

Skeptics feel Trump is only expressing interest in the team for publicity purposes so he can stay relevant, but he denies that is the case.

Trump, who once owned the New Jersey Generals of the USFL, says one of the big reasons why the Bills appeal to him is their proximity to his home base in Manhattan. He also says he would do his best to keep the team in western New York, which is important to the fans who are worried about potential buyers moving the team to a city like Toronto.

One person who will also likely be in the mix is Jon Bon Jovi. He has been working NFL ownership circles for a while and could be a front man for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which has obvious ties to Toronto.

Mike Williams and Bills coach Doug Marrone have a (rough?) history together

Mike Williams BucsThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers have traded wide receiver Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills for a sixth round draft pick, according to ESPN’s James Walker.

From the Bucs’ perspective, the move is hardly a surprise. Williams has had several off-field issues since he entered the league in 2010. The most recent was his brother allegedly stabbing him in the leg during some sort of dispute. While that may not have been Williams’ fault, Lovie Smith had already indicated he did not approve of the receiver’s antics before the incident.

The fact that the Bills decided to trade for Williams is what really makes the move interesting. As Dave Richard of CBS Sports reminded us, Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone coached Williams at Syracuse. The Buffalo native was suspended for all of the 2008 season for cheating on a test. He later faced another suspension after breaking team curfew.

Marrone reportedly held a team vote to decide whether or not Williams should be allowed to remain with the team after the second violation, and his teammates supported him. When Marrone tried to call Williams to give him a chance to come back, he reportedly could not get ahold of him and Williams had a number of excuses as to why. It was later announced that Williams was no longer with the team.

“It was just a misunderstanding with me and the coach,” Williams said back in 2010. “The mistake I made was walking out of his office out of frustration. I didn’t quit at all. I made three mistakes in my life. Not handing in a paper, getting in a car accident and getting suspended because of my grades and it was my three mistakes. If you say that I am a bad person because of those three mistakes I guess there is a lot worse people than me.”

Apparently Marrone does not hold grudges.

Buffalo Bills complained to NFL about facing so many opponents who are coming off extra rest

EJ Manuel BillsThe Buffalo Bills’ 3-7 record may not be their fault, guys. In fact, the team’s poor record may not even be a direct result of injuries to key players like quarterback EJ Manuel and running back CJ Spiller. If you want the perfect excuse, just blame the schedule.

During his weekly appearance on WGR Sportsradio 550 on Wednesday, Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon said the team has contacted the league to complain about scheduling. More specifically, the Bills are upset that so many of their opponents have faced them on extra rest, either because of a Thursday night game the previous week or a bye week.

“We certainly have talked to the league about this because it’s been disappointing where teams are coming off a bye or a long week,” Brandon said, via the Bills official website. ”This (Sunday) is the second time we’re playing the Jets coming off a Thursday night game and now we’re playing them coming off a bye. We lead the league in amount of games coming off of extra time or a bye week. It is a very, very tough job what they have in scheduling with all the different things that go into the formula and the stadium commitments and TV schedules, but it’s certainly something that needs to be addressed.”

You can certainly make the argument that teams are at an advantage when they have extra time to prepare for their upcoming opponent. The Bills have six games this season — three against AFC East foes — in which their opponents benefit from extra rest. The Atlanta Falcons have the second most games under those circumstances, and they only have four.

A legitimate gripe? Maybe, but it’s not the reason the Bills are 3-7. Injuries have been an issue and they aren’t very good to begin with. Bad luck and poor play sometimes go hand-in-hand.

EJ Manuel pulling away from Kevin Kolb in QB competition

EJ Manuel BillsThe Buffalo Bills entered training camp with E.J. Manuel and Kevin Kolb competing for the starting quarterback job. Kolb, who was signed by the team in the offseason, seemed like the leader to start Week 1 because of his experience. But through two preseason games, it’s looking more and more like Manuel will open the season as the team’s starter.

Kolb, who missed the first preseason game because of a knee injury, got the start against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday. He went 13-of-21 for 111 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception on a tipped ball. He scrambled one time for seven yards.

Manuel came in after Kolb and went 10-of-12 for 92 yards and a touchdown.

Both quarterbacks operated mostly out of the shotgun and threw short, quick routes. They each were faced with pressure from Minnesota’s four-man front, which frequently got in their face quickly. The Vikings’ defense led Kolb to look to release the ball quickly on many of his attempts.

Though neither quarterback was particularly impressive, Kolb has not given the Bills a reason not to go with the rookie. The Bills boldly selected Manuel with their No. 16 overall pick, making him the first quarterback taken in the draft. They were impressed by his build, abilities, and intangible qualities. Team GM Doug Whaley even admitted they would love to have Manuel run away with the job.

“Absolutely, it helps if he becomes the starter and becomes successful, there’s no doubt about it,” Whaley admitted to NFL.com during the week.

Through two preseason games, Manuel is now 26-of-33 for 199 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also rushed four times for 29 yards. He’d have to get injured or have a disastrous third game preseason game to lose this competition.

Will Bills select Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib with 8th overall pick in draft?

Ryan-Nassib-SyracuseThe Buffalo Bills are trying to create some competition at quarterback heading into training camp, but they have little in the way of quality depth at the position. If camp started today, Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson would be battling for the starting job. Fortunately, the Bills still have an opportunity to address the position in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Buffalo currently holds the 8th overall pick in the draft, which begins on Thursday. There is a growing belief that the Bills will take a quarterback with that selection, and ESPN’s Todd McShay speculated in his most recent mock draft that former Syracuse signal-caller Ryan Nassib could be a logical choice.

Nassib, a three-year starter for the Orange, completed over 62% of his passes and threw for 3,749 yards and 26 touchdowns in his senior season last year. He is considered by most to be one of the top-five quarterbacks in the 2013 draft class, but there has been some disagreement about where players like West Virginia’s Geno Smith and USC’s Matt Barkley will be selected.

Kurt Warner seems to think taking Nassib at No. 8 would be a major stretch for Buffalo.

“Watching film of this guy — not overly impressive on film,” Warner told NFL AM on Tuesday morning, via Pro Football Talk. “If you’re drafting a quarterback in the first round, you’re drafting a franchise quarterback, a guy who you believe can win Super Bowls for you. Otherwise, why draft a guy that high? You need a guy that can do everything, and I didn’t see on film this guy having the ability to do everything. He didn’t wow me when I saw him on film.”

There is always a gamble any time a team selects a quarterback in the first round, but it should be noted that Nassib played for Bills coach Doug Marrone while at Syracuse. Buffalo could have a bias because of that, or Marrone may simply be confident Nassib is capable of becoming an NFL starter based on what he knows about him. Time will tell.