Marcell Dareus is six-year NFL veteran. He knows full well the kind of temperament and intensity one must have when practicing against teammates. In his first practice back Wednedsay, Dareus stacked and shed the center and had the running back dead to rights in the backfield. In a game he would've pancaked the back, but he pulled up in time to simply chest bump the back in reverse sending him back to where he took the hand-off. It's safe to say that Buffalo's gifted defensive tackle is back.
"I'm pretty eager and they can tell by the way I practiced today with the guys," said Dareus following practice Wednesday. "I'm pretty eager right now. I have a lot of pent up aggression. I'm just ready to go. I can say that much."
Watching the Bills first four games of the season, particularly the first two, was supremely difficult for Dareus. He felt he could've helped. He said it 'ate at him.' Dareus considers his teammates his second family. They're not hangers on and they don't ask for hand-outs. They supported him and kept in touch with him while he was busy improving his personal outlook.
"They constantly kept me in the loop and they just said, 'Marcell, we've got your back. We can't wait for you to get back. Just be ready when you get here.' It meant a lot to me."
Dareus worked with a life coach and spent some quality time with Bills Hall of Famer Bruce Smith feeling he was in need of some guidance in making better off the field decisions and learning to tell people, 'No.'
"I'm just happy with what I did over the four weeks," said Dareus. "I was really proactive to better myself. I did exactly what I wanted to do. I'm happy with what I've done and I'm happy for the future. I'm optimistic for the future."
Fellow defensive tackle Kyle Williams met with Dareus on his off day Tuesdays over the past four weeks to see how he was doing and to help keep him up to speed on the developments and changes in the defensive scheme.
"He and I have had some extra meeting time together and we're going to get going and try to get him as acclimated to some different things that we're doing," said Williams. "He can help my game, I can help his because we play off each other a lot which is good. It's good to have him back."
The impact Dareus can have is obvious. He demands double team attention and that's a problem on a defensive line that also features Williams and has Jerry Hughes coming off the edge.
"Now you can't really double Kyle (Williams) like everybody has been doing or chip Jerry (Hughes)," said Zach Brown. "Now you've got to pick your poison. You've got Jerry and 'Zo (Alexander), Kyle and now you've got Marcell and then me and Preston (Brown) might come up the middle. So pick your poison. Who you going to pick?"
Dareus said he did all the conditioning work and weight room work required of him to stay as fit as possible. But head coach Rex Ryan realizes it's still not the same thing as football shape, so the defensive tackle will not play the entire game Sunday in Los Angeles.
"He wouldn't play as if he had been here the whole time," said Ryan. "It's not like he's going to have that role. I think we'll be smart in how we bring him back. With that said I want him out there. And we need him out there. This is a week where I'm happy he's back."
As for Dareus he just wants his play to do the talking moving forward.
"Talk is cheap. I'm all about actions. I'm going to do the best I can," he said. "We're doing good. I'm not trying to mess up anything. I just want to come in and be smooth and do what I can and help out where I can and be the best teammate I can possibly be."
Buffalo's defense has rounded into form the past couple of weeks and the architect of the defense only sees Dareus' presence in it helping.
"I don't think he's going to disrupt it. I think he's going to add to that group," said Ryan. "Obviously he's a tremendous player individually. But Marcell is a guy that is a team guy. He plays within the structure of the defense and he plays hard. That's all we ask. We're excited about having him in. I know everybody is excited to have Marcell back."