NFL Nation: defensive line

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- In stark contrast to Ray Rice's awkward news conference in May, the Baltimore Ravens running back showed Thursday that he finally understood the weight of his actions from the alleged altercation with his then-fiancée in February.

He delivered the correct message, one the NFL failed to do last week with the two-game suspension, by not only apologizing to his wife, Janay Palmer, but also expressing a desire to become an advocate for domestic-violence causes.

Rice was compelling in his contrition, calling it the biggest mistake of his life. He stood in front of the microphone alone, without his wife standing by his side, and took full responsibility for the incident. Perhaps more importantly, Rice actually said the words "domestic violence," which weren't heard in his statement two months ago.

"My actions were inexcusable," Rice said. "That's something I have to live with the rest of my life."

Before anyone pats Rice on the back, this is what he should have said the first time when he broke his silence in May. Instead, Rice nervously fumbled through notes on his phone and apologized to team officials and his sponsors. That debacle of a news conference came across as damage control to his image.

His 17-minute news conference Thursday hit the right tones. He apologized to all women affected by domestic violence. He accepted the blame for losing the respect of fans. Rice came across as genuinely sorry.

"I let my wife down, I let my daughter down, I let my wife's parents down, I let the whole Baltimore community down," Rice said.

Rice's biggest misstep was not talking about what happened in the elevator. He was asked twice about it and declined to answer both times. His stance against domestic violence would have resonated stronger if he had explained his transgressions.

"I'll be honest: Like I said, I own my actions," Rice said. "I just don't want to keep reliving the incident. It doesn't bring any good to me. I'm just trying to move forward from it. I don't condone it. I take full responsibility for my actions. What happened that night is something that I'm going to pay for the rest of my life."

The only way Rice can move forward from this incident and show he's truly sincere is through his actions. It's not by his words. It's not by a hefty donation, which is merely a gesture. It's by proving this will remain a "one-time incident" and by supporting domestic-violence causes.

Thursday represented a small step forward for Rice. But it was an important one.
Remember 13 months ago when the Buffalo Bills had interest in former Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley? Buffalo, which owned the No. 3 overall pick, had a heavy presence at Fairley's pro day and brought him in for a personal visit weeks before the 2011 draft.

Buffalo wanted help on the defensive line, and Fairley and Marcell Dareus were the top two prospects. When both players were on the board, Buffalo wise took Dareus at No. 3 over Fairley.

Fast forward one year later. Dareus is an up-and-coming defensive tackle coming off a solid rookie season. He recorded 43 tackles, 5.5 sacks and played in all 16 games for the Bills in 2011. Dareus is a young player with Pro Bowl potential.

Meanwhile, Fairley, who was taken at No. 13 overall by the Detroit Lions, was arrested for the second time in two months this past weekend. He reportedly was charged with driving under the influence and attempting to evade police while driving 100 miles per hour. In addition, Fairley battled a foot injury as a rookie and recorded just 11 tackles and one sack.

It's clear Buffalo made the right choice. Not only is Dareus the more productive player on the field, but he is not the headache Fairley has become off the field. These are the kind of smart decisions you want to make in the first round.
The Buffalo Bills' already stout defensive line just got even better.

Buffalo signed former New England Patriots defensive end Mark Anderson to a four-year contract Wednesday. Anderson joins fellow defensive end Mario Williams and defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus on Buffalo's defensive line.

The Bills had trouble getting to the quarterback last season and made it a point to put their resources toward fixing the issue. Anderson recorded 10 sacks for the Patriots last season. Williams has 59 career sacks and is one of the NFL's best pass-rushers. Consider the problem solved.

Buffalo's defensive line is looking downright scary. The group will be very tough to move in the middle and pass protect against on the edges.

The Anderson signing also hurts the reigning AFC East champion Patriots. New England lose last season's team leader in sacks to a division rival. The Patriots are looking to add pass-rushers, not lose them.

For the first time in a long time, Buffalo is spending big money and making moves in free agency. Bills general manager Buddy Nix said the team will be major players this offseason, and Nix continues to prove it.