Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- In their first week of Organized Team Activities of the offseason, the Buffalo Bills had nearly an 89-percent attendance rate as the team continues to adjust to life under new Head Coach Doug Marrone.
There were 10 total absences from Tuesday's voluntary session, and only three of which were veteran players. Headlining the latter is of course the recently franchise tagged safety Jairus Byrd, who has yet to show up to any offseason workouts since the new league year has begun.
Byrd has not signed his franchise tender to this point in time, giving he and the Bills until July 15 to negotiate a long-term deal. If no deal is reached by that date, the two sides may only negotiate a one-year deal or Byrd can simply just sign the tender.
Joining Byrd as veteran no-shows were a pair of free agent signings this off-season. Strongside linebacker Manny Lawson and defensive lineman Alan Branch each missed the practice. Afterwards, Marrone alluded to the missing veterans.
"Obviously we have some players… veteran players have some personal issues that they're taking care of that we're aware of," the coach said.
The attendance rate likely would have been higher if it weren't for the graduation rule that prevents some rookies from attending offseason workouts. Because of the rule, that kept a total of seven first-year players out of the team's first set of OTAs.
That group includes both second-round wide receiver Robert Woods and third-round wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, as well as undrafted rookie wide receiver Brandon Kaufman, wide receiver Kevin Norell, cornerback Nickell Robey, safety Jordan Dangerfield and defensive lineman Aaron Tipoti.
Marrone said on Tuesday that he believes firmly in what the NFL is trying to do with those very rules.
"I'm actually for them. I'm a big supporter of the student athletes and a big supporter of making sure that you graduate," he said. "I applaud the NFL from what they've done from when I was a player until now. I was one of those players. I was one of those players that had to leave school, and that's why when you look at my resume, you'll see in 1991 is when I graduated. A lot of that was because I did have to leave and go to the team that drafted me."
Outside of the 10 absences, some players did not participate in the team drills. That group consists of wide receiver Stevie Johnson, defensive tackle Kyle Williams, cornerback Leodis McKelvin, tight end Scott Chandler, offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders and guard Keith Williams.
Cornerback Justin Rogers appeared to walk off gingerly during the team portion of practice, and had to go to the trainer's room in the middle of practice. He did not return.
The Bills have one more day of OTAs on Wednesday before they break for the remainder of the week. They'll get started for the second set of the workouts on Monday, May 20.