Niagara Gazette


November 23, 2013

Alonso heads Bills' list of promising rookies

Kiko heads Bills' list of promising rookies


Niagara Gazette — More encouraging is how Alonso’s production has put the spotlight on Buffalo’s rookie class that has made significant contributions to a team that placed a big emphasis on starting over during a top-to-bottom offseason overhaul.

The transformation began Jan. 1, when Russ Brandon took over as Bills president and vowed leaving no stone unturned to repair what he called the franchise’s “tarnished relevancy.”

The Bills hired a rookie coach, Doug Marrone. They’re headed by a rookie general manager, Doug Whaley, who took over in May after Buddy Nix stepped down. And they feature a rookie class that includes quarterback EJ Manuel (selected 16th overall) and receivers Robert Woods (41st) and Marquise Goodwin (78th).

Alonso was selected 46th with a pick the Bills acquired by moving back in the first round in a trade with St. Louis.

Brandon credits Nix and Whaley for selecting the players, and Marrone for molding them.

“I really love what (Marrone’s) building and the character of this team,” Brandon said. “We know our record isn’t where we want it to be, but these guys continue to bring it each and every week.”

The only thing unchanged is the losing record for a team that’s not made the playoffs since 1999. This marks the 12 out of 13 seasons Buffalo hasn’t had a winning record through 11 games.

The schedule does get easier. Buffalo’s next three opponents — Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville — have combined for only five wins entering this week.

Manuel has struggled on the road, where he’s 0-3, and his development was hampered after missing four games with a sprained right knee. And yet, the Florida State product is 3-1 at home, and coming off his most complete performance. He went 20 of 28 for 245 yards and two touchdowns in out-dueling fellow rookie quarterback Geno Smith in a 37-14 win over the Jets.

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