Niagara Gazette

Sports

August 22, 2013

Bills sign Byrd, are granted preseason exemption

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Earlier in the day, coach Doug Marrone was encouraged by Byrd’s signing, and didn’t believe it would take long for the safety to grasp the defense installed by new coordinator Mike Pettine.

“We all know what type of player he is,” Marrone said. “I don’t think it’s probably as big of an issue as maybe people might make it out to be. ... I’m sure that he was in communication with a lot of his teammates. And I think that that helps the transition when he comes back in knowing what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The Bills wrapped up camp with a 90-minute practice.

The mood was light and upbeat. Receivers switched jerseys, running backs played hot potato after practice, and there were several pranks pulled.

A video of running back Fred Jackson dunking a miniature basketball over Marrone in the team’s locker became popular after being released on the Internet.

It’s something that continued to illustrate a growing bond between the players and the rookie coach.

Jackson, one of Buffalo’s veteran leaders, has sensed a positive difference.

“The whole team, everybody’s really buying into the systems and everything that the coaching staff is putting in,” Jackson said. “Tremendous energy out of our coaching staff and excitement. I haven’t seen guys this excited for a long time.”

Buffalo’s new-look defense tops the list of positives for the Bills, who now return to their Orchard Park headquarters. Throughout camp, the defenders frequently flustered the offense with a variety of blitzes.

On offense, Buffalo’s young receivers have played well. Rookie speedster Marquise Goodwin was among the team’s best overall performers, making big plays down the field.

Goodwin, along with rookie second-round pick Robert Woods, are being counted upon to take pressure off returning starter Stevie Johnson this season.

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