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Posted: Thursday, 18 April 2013 1:24PM

Bills' Marrone stressing tempo at practices



Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550)  -- After covering countless practices over the past three years, you needed only a few minutes at the Buffalo Bills' voluntary veteran minicamp to realize there's a whole different feel at practice under new head coach Doug Marrone.

With players always moving, coaches stressing the little things and not allowing too much time to elapse between drills, it's clear things are changing at One Bills Drive.

"I think for us coming in to it, one of the things that we wanted to get accomplished as a team was one, we wanted to establish a tempo," Marrone said after the conclusion of the third and final day. "Football is a game, when you got on that field, everything happens so quickly during a game. I think that you get a false sense of security if you're slowed down in practice and you're slowing things down. The faster you can make it in practice, I think it's better carryover to the game."

Media in attendance weren't the only ones to notice the difference. Every player made note of it when speaking after the session.

"Fast, aggressive, up tempo, a lot of fun," Mario Williams said. "That's for sure."

"Definitely more enthusiastic. It's like an energy atmosphere, kind of like a young feel," linebacker Nigel Bradham remarked. "Everybody's hyped, everybody is in to it together -- from coaches to players. Any time you have an atmosphere like that it's pretty much just have fun, and enjoy yourself while you're out here and just work hard."

"Yeah, we're not even pushing it right now really, and you can still feel it amongst the practice," said new quarterback Kevin Kolb. "Has a lot to do with our coaching and the way that they press things, and then of course it transpires through me and the leaders, and that's the way we want to play the game."

Whether it was Marrone yelling out to quicken the pace, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett jumping up in excitement when the offense hit a big play over the middle or defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson arguing with the hired officials over a defensive holding call, the Bills were pushing it in their first three-day workout session.

"There's no doubt that I'm excited about our start. I'm happy with it," Marrone said. "I told that and communicated that with the players. I think the players have been very responsive. We've thrown a lot at them in these last three days. Very multiple on offense, multiple on defense. We've done some situations; third down, red zone. So we've gotten a lot of stuff in and there's no doubt that we're headed, I feel, in the right direction as well as the players."

A handful of players did not participate in the on-the-field portion of the workout but were in attendance. That includes Stevie Johnson, Kyle Williams, Scott Chandler, Erik Pears, Zebrie Sanders, Chris White, Adam Grant, Thomas Welch and Keith Williams.

Although in attendance on Wednesday, Manny Lawson was not at the third day of workouts. Jairus Byrd, who has still yet to sign his franchise tag, was not in attendance for any of the three days.

On defense when the Bills went in to 3-4 looks, Marcell Dareus played nose tackle a majority of the time. Alan Branch and Alex Carrington played the ends beside him, while Mario Williams was an outside linebacker.

At left guard, first team reps were split between Chris Scott and Sam Young. Some fans have asked about Zebrie Sanders moving to guard, but Marrone said he sees the former fifth-round pick as a tackle first and a guard second.

Some of the eleven players that were brought in for a tryout got a bunch of repetitions as the practice wore on. Punter Brian Stahovich and tight end Nick Provo each stood out for positive reasons. Stahovich was very impressive in distance, hang time and placement. As for Provo, he had a split possession on a catch with cornerback Ron Brooks, and wrestled it away from him resulting in the defender being suplexed to turf with a thud.

[Edit: The Bills announced shortly after practice that they signed five tryout players to contracts: Stahovich, kicker Chris Koepplin, defensive end Jamie Blatnick, linebacker Kourtnei Brown and running back Frank Summers.]

The Bills now shift back in to voluntary offseason conditioning programs for a three-day session for each of the next three weeks, and then reconvene on Monday, May 13 for the first version of OTAs.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

All photos courtesy of AP
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