By JOHN WAWROW
Niagara Gazette — ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Buffalo Bills signed rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso to a four-year contract on Wednesday.
The deal is worth close to $4.3 million, with about $1.5 million guaranteed for the second of Buffalo's two second-round draft picks.
Chosen 46th overall, the 6-foot-3 and 238-pound Alonso was a hard-hitting tackler during three seasons at Oregon. He had 143 tackles, six interceptions and 3½ sacks in 36 career games, including 17 starts. He was the 2012 Rose Bowl defensive player after having an interception and 1½ sacks in a 45-38 win over Wisconsin.
Alonso missed his sophomore season after being suspended due to separate alcohol-related offenses. He was reinstated the following year.
He took a straightforward approach with NFL teams when asked about his past.
"I just told them I put in my time and I'm moving forward," Alonso said. "I'm ready to play football and compete."
Alonso will compete for a starting job in a revamped defense that's making the switch to a 3-4 system under new coordinator Mike Pettine. The Bills thought highly enough of Alonso's potential that they traded returning starter Kelvin Sheppard to Indianapolis two days after the draft.
From Los Gatos, Calif., Alonso's mother, Monica, is from Colombia, while his father, Carlos, was born in Cuba and grew up in Puerto Rico. Alonso's older brother, Carlos Jr., is a second baseman with the Philadelphia Phillies Single-A affiliate in Clearwater, Fla.
The Bills have now signed six of the eight players they drafted last month. Only first-round pick, Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel, and second-round pick, Southern California receiver Robert Woods, are unsigned.
On the field, the Bills closed a three-day voluntary veteran minicamp Wednesday.
Starting receiver Stevie Johnson has yet to practice this spring because of a lingering back problem. He missed all three sessions this week, after missing three minicamp practices last month.
Coach Doug Marrone said he's being cautious regarding the injury and doesn't want to rush Johnson into action too soon.
Without disclosing the nature of the injury, Johnson would only say he's "getting better.".
Veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams has also not practiced, and is recovering from having offseason surgery to correct a foot injury. It's unclear whether the injury is to the same left foot which Williams had surgically repaired midway through the 2011 season.
Williams said it's still too early to determine whether he'll be cleared by the time the Bills close their series of spring practices with a mandatory minicamp that runs June 11-13.
"I don't know. We've still got a few weeks," Williams said. "We'll see."
The Bills are off until Monday, when they open a three-day voluntary camp.