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Changes, intensity notable at Bills OTA

The SportsXchange

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Pity the players who weren't there when the Buffalo Bills kicked off week two of voluntary organized team activities under new coach Doug Marrone on Monday.

While the few players who are missing have valid excuses, they are missing a heavy dose of installation by the new coaching staff. All three phases -- offense, defense and special teams -- are being emphasized.

Marrone said the excitement of a new beginning for everybody is important for keeping the energy level on a natural high. But eventually, motivation to prepare has to come from within.

"I was very pleased with the way we got off to a start as far as the OTAs and practicing, the first three practices," Marrone said of last week. "A lot of that was we as coaches are excited, the players are excited and everything has a newness to it, which creates some excitement. I think this is very critical for us as far as OTAs. Obviously the installation is heavier now than it was in the beginning.

"I can get up there every day and give them the great 'Let's go get 'em speech,' but in the end that is not going to be good enough. A lot of this has to come from within. That was my challenge to them today. To make sure that here we go with practices four, five and six, which is really right in the middle of what we are doing OTA-wise."

Among the veterans missing were free agent linebacker Manny Lawson and defensive tackle Alan Branch, who have not attended any OTAs to date. Marrone said each player has a very valid family related excuse and he's not worried.

"There's no question. Everybody's hungry," said free agent quarterback Kevin Kolb, who is with is third NFL team. "And everybody's ready to prove something, including the older guys that are here because some of us are new and there's a new coaching staff. They're new eyes and the coaching staff is trying to prove stuff to us as well: prove their systems work, prove their methods work, so that makes for a competitive camp and competitive OTAs."

The Bills are installing an up-tempo West Coast offense under coordinator Nate Hackett, one that is heavy on a lot of no-huddle and attacks vertically. Defensively, Buffalo will play a hybrid 3-4 with so many combinations and fronts it will be difficult to label. That's how coordinator Mike Pettine likes it.

Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel is doing his best to keep up, making the best of his opportunities and learning how to watch.

"That's exactly what it is, just having to take those mental reps. When you hear a play being called you might say it out loud just like you would in the huddle and treat it like you're actually out there playing," he said.

--The Bills signed second-round draft pick wide receiver Robert Woods of Southern Cal, leaving just one of their eight picks unsigned, Manuel. ... DE Mario Williams, speaking to reporters for the first time since an explosive story broke over the weekend detailing a lawsuit against his ex-fiance over an engagement ring, denied he's ever had suicidal thoughts and that text messages released by his ex-fiance's attorney, Tony Buzbee, were taken out of context. Williams sued Erin Marzouki for return of a $785,000 diamond ring. She has countersued. "It is what it is. I could really care less. All it is (is) allegations and text messages and what not, whatever information blown out of proportion. I mean, it's completely out of context." Some text messages revealed that Williams took pain killers before a game last season against New England. Williams said they were prescribed to him coming off wrist surgery.
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