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New-look Bills begin taking shape

Posted Apr 23, 2014

With offseason conditioning officially underway, the newest Bills have their first chance to get acclimated.


The new additions to the Buffalo Bills had their first official chance to meet and work out with their new teammates on Tuesday. The first day of this offseason’s voluntary workout program took place at One Bills Drive, and almost every player currently on the Bills roster was in attendance. When asked about a percentage of players on the roster working out Tuesday, head coach Doug Marrone said it was in the “high 90s.”

“Obviously, it’s a start for us: Phase One. It started today with our players. Obviously, we’re extremely excited as coaches and as an organization,” Marrone said.

One of the most exciting aspects of Tuesday’s workouts is the ability to get a glimpse at the new additions to the Buffalo Bills. Perhaps the most noteworthy defensive pickup was former New England Patriots LB Brandon Spikes.

“I think he’s a physical football player. He’s been very good against the run, and we didn’t do as good a job as we need to against the run,” said Marrone. “So bringing in a guy like Brandon Spikes gives us an ability to solve that problem.

Some have voiced concerns about Spikes’ excitable personality and how that fits into the Buffalo locker room, but his teammates and coaches see it as a positive.

“I feel like it will help us out a lot,” defensive end Jerry Hughes said about Spikes’ vocal leadership. “I think it will help us out just as far as us communicating on the field, getting everyone on the same page, I think we can spin that and use it to our football advantage.”

Even the offensive players have taken note of how Spikes will affect the defense.

“That defense can, in my opinion, be really scary,” running back C.J. Spiller said. “Coach Schwartz loves having guys that can do a lot of things, so I’m looking forward to just watching those guys play, and giving us the ball back, giving us an opportunity to score.”

Spiller also mentioned how the offensive offseason acquisitions, mainly OL Chris Williams and WR Mike Williams, will affect the how they approach the preseason.

“That’s huge. They bring in more competition, so we’re looking forward to those guys making a big splash for us,” Spiller said. “I worked out with Mike today, he’s looking good.”

Williams is looking like he will play an important role as a primary weapon for second-year quarterback EJ Manuel, as well as take pressure off of WR Stevie Johnson. He is coming back to Buffalo, where he grew up - playing high school ball at Riverside Institute of Technology.

“I think it’s good that we added Mike to the team,” Johnson said. “It’s another weapon for EJ, he’s a player you can put anywhere just like myself, just like all the other wide receivers on the roster. He’s only going to help our offense.”

Perhaps no one is more excited to bring in Williams, who was acquired from Tampa Bay in a trade in return for a sixth-round draft pick, than Manuel.

“I think that was a huge pickup for us,” Manuel said. “Being a Buffalo native, I think it’s great for the city, to have Mike come back home and play for his hometown team. But I’m very excited to have him as a part of our receiving core. We had great talent at receiver already, and adding Mike into that mix is going to be really good for us.”

Marrone is reuniting with Williams for the first time since the wide receiver left the Syracuse football team, coached by Marrone at the time, in 2009. But Marrone is giving Williams –and all of his new additions- a clean slate in 2014.

“Mike and I talked about [what happened at Syracuse] in private conversations and I feel great about it. And I’m sure Mike does too.”