NFL Nation: Marcus Stroud

Bills bolster D-line with Marcell Dareus

April, 28, 2011
4/28/11
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills could have taken a couple of philosophical approaches when it came to building their organization's future: quarterback at No. 3 or their best defensive player on the board and try to get a quarterback with the 34th selection. They drafted Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus.

Why the Bills took him: The Bills ranked dead last against the run last year, allowing 169.6 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. Dareus, at 6-foot-2 and 308 pounds, is considered the best defensive lineman in the draft and highly versatile, able to play nose tackle or 5-technique defensive end in the 3-4 or line up as a defensive tackle in a 4-3.

How it affects the roster: Dareus should start immediately in the Bills' 3-4 hybrid defense and allow them to effectively mix in four-man fronts to keep offenses on their toes. Dareus would play alongside Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams. The Bills also are high on sophomore defensive tackle Torell Troup. The Bills released defensive end Marcus Stroud before the lockout.

Scouts Inc. says: Does an excellent job of finding the football. Elite awareness. Consistently does a great job of finding the football. Does an excellent job of disengaging from blocks; uses quick hands and feet to get out of trouble. He pursues hard, has great speed for his size, and will make some plays from behind.
If the NFL assures players that the big money that’s gone to first-round picks in the past will be redistributed to veterans, I don’t see where the players can object.

AP reported details of the league’s pitch for reducing rookie salaries.

For context, here’s a look at the money the Jacksonville Jaguars have paid first-round picks since 2000 -- $111,380,562 in guaranteed money before playing an NFL snap, an average of $10,125,506 per player.


Nelson, Jones, Williams and Soward were outright busts and Harvey could be off the roster by opening day. The Jaguars have suffered and will suffer depth-chart consequences for those picks. But they also shelled out nearly $26 million to those five guys.

Personnel failures are one thing, the financial penalty is something else and the only element involved in all of this that would object to a system change is members of the rookie pool who aren’t actually very good.

Five-year deals for first-rounders negotiated in this context, with less total money, seems sensible. Nothing would change for draft picks outside of the first round.

The change could help fix what’s broken in the draft.

As Eagles president Joe Banner told AP:
"The whole concept of the draft and ordering of the picks is to maintain competitive balance in the league. Now teams get top picks who have become so expensive and there's the risk you can miss, and it makes the ability to trade in and out of those spots almost impossible. It can become a disadvantage to be in one of the top spots."

But agent Ben Dogra makes a good counterargument.

"Five years and reduced pay is basically restricting players," said Dogra, whose clients include Patrick Willis and Sam Bradford. "Roughly 68 percent of the NFL is comprised of players with five years or less of NFL experience.

"Even players from essentially picks 11 to 32 in the first round are good financial deals for the teams. If a player becomes a starter or an integral part of the team under the current system, the NFL teams have the player under a rookie deal that is favorable to the team."

The league’s done well to get this issue out front. It’s time to tinker with it, get it right and count it as one element of the deal that's done.

Stroud expects reawakening with Patriots

April, 1, 2011
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Marcus Stroud's career stalled out with the Buffalo Bills.

They traded for the three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle in 2008 and loved him so much after one season that they signed him to a contract extension -- even though he still had two years left on his contract. Stroud's new deal was worth $29 million through 2012.

Stroud
Stroud
In February, the Bills released him. He was a starting lineman on the NFL's worst run defense. There wasn't much reason to keep paying him when they could play less-expensive prospects instead.

So where does Stroud go after being dumped by a last-place team?

In the often counterintuitive NFL world, Stroud landed with the reigning AFC East champs. Stroud's first comments since signing a two-year deal with the New England Patriots were with Boston Herald reporter Ian R. Rapoport.

"I've seen the trend," Stroud said. "You have guys who are in the same situation I'm in, who some people may deem washed up or on his last legs. And then they end up going to New England and having a lot of success for another two, three, four years. That's what I'm looking at.

"I know how my body feels right now. It's just a matter of getting in shape and being ready. I promise you, I will do that."

In 15 games for the Bills last season, Stroud recorded 29 tackles, six tackles for losses and three sacks.

Stroud wasn't forthcoming about his role in the Patriots' defense, but he didn't seem too concerned with learning his responsibilities.

"With the timing [of the lockout], we talked as much as we could in a day or two," Stroud said. "So I know the scheme. I'm familiar with it. But I guess all that other stuff and exactly where I fit in, where I would be playing and stuff like that, that'll take care of itself.

"At the end of the day, it's still football. You got to be able to get on and off your blocks, tackle the ball."

Holmes, Cromartie highlight division moves

March, 1, 2011
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Tuesday afternoon brought a surge of AFC East roster updates. Teams are scrambling to conduct business before the collective bargaining agreement expires in two days.

The New York Jets have announced they will place the high free-agent tenders on receiver Santonio Holmes and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

That means (under the current CBA) the team that signed either player would need to compensate the Jets with first- and third-round draft choices. But there's uncertainty over what restricted tenders will mean under the new CBA.

Other Jets are expected to get low tenders.

ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini, citing unnamed league sources, also reports the Jets will retain running back LaDainian Tomlinson. There was speculation the Jets could part ways with Tomlinson, who will turn 32 before the next season.

Also Tuesday, the Buffalo Bills extended restricted free agent tenders to inside linebacker Paul Posluszny, safety Donte Whitner and tight end Scott Chandler.

Also Tuesday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the New England Patriots have signed former Bills defensive tackle Marcus Stroud to a two-year deal. ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss wrote an analysis of the move and surmises Stroud likely will be a first- and second-down defensive end in the Patriots' 3-4 base defense.

Jacksonville likes to be, and wants to be, a big, physical defense.

To rebuild into that, General Manager Gene Smith has spent two picks in his first two drafts on defensive tackles. And Terrance Knighton, loving known as Pot Roast, and Tyson Alualu, are starting to give this group an identity.

Knighton
Knighton
Alualu
Alualu
They could turn into a combo that can match what John Henderson and Marcus Stroud once were.

“I don’t see many backs getting a whole lot of open holes up the middle,” David Garrard said. “They do a great job of plugging things up. They are two big guys, so it is really hard to move them and then they have a high motor too. For as big as they are and the motor they have, they make it tough for anybody to run right up the middle on them.”

Titans fullback Ahmard Hall said if the Jaguars aim is to send Chris Johnson to the edge, they’ll be happy to go there. Tennessee is looking for big things from Johnson, who had 26 carries for 111 yards in Tennessee’s 30-3 blowout win at Jacksonville on Monday Night Football back on Oct. 18, but got a big chunk of that with a late 35-yard touchdown.

Tennessee right guard Jake Scott played against the Henderson-Stroud duo.

“It’s a little difference, I think,” Scott said. “Knighton is a pretty big, stout guy but [Alualu] is a little more athletic than Stroud or Henderson, the kid’s got some quickness to him and I think he’s probably going to develop into a pretty good player.

“In the past that’s what they’ve built their defense around – being able to take away the inside run with just two guys. I think that’s what they are trying to get back to. If they can do that it takes a lot of pressure of the rest of the defense.”

Jeff Fisher said the Titans liked both players when they were coming out of college -- Knighton out of Temple in 2009 and Alualu out of Cal last spring.

While coach Jack Del Rio is pleased with their progress, he’s wary as he should be of premature comparisons to his old tandem.

“Like when we got here in ’03, those guys didn’t have that type of recognition, nor did they have that type of reputation,” he said. “I think you earn that. I would just say our two young tackles, they’re young and they’re both talented, but they’ve got a ways to go before you can talk about them like that, in my opinion. You’ve got to earn that on the field and Stroud and Henderson put together a number of years together being disruptive.”

“Then we kind of knew what we had, but a lot of work went into them developing and us being able to utilize them and so right now I’d say there is promise and we like both of our tackles, but they’ve got a ways to go before you put them in the same sentence as that.”

Trent Edwards, Marshawn Lynch, then who?

October, 5, 2010
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The Buffalo Bills know they're not going to be able to compete this year and have traded one of their most talented players for middling draft considerations.

The Bills on Tuesday traded running back Marshawn Lynch to the Seattle Seahawks. For a Pro Bowler two seasons ago and a two-time 1,000-yard rusher, the Bills received a fourth-round draft choice next year and a conditional pick for 2012.

[+] EnlargeMarshawn Lynch
Icon SMIA Pro Bowler just two seasons ago, Marshawn Lynch was traded to Seattle for a fourth-rounder and a conditional draft choice.
It's hard to imagine the Bills being unable to get at least that much for Lynch before this year's draft.

And based on Buffalo's track record at the draft, over the past decade, you can safely assume that fourth-round pick won't turn out to be a steal.

Buffalo's front office made the move eight days after releasing Trent Edwards, the quarterback who won the starting job after six months of evaluation by head coach and play-caller Chan Gailey. A couple of days later, linebacker Kawika Mitchell asked to be released from the team and accepted an injury settlement.

The Lynch trade could be a harbinger of more moves to come. The Bills are 0-4 and considered among the worst few teams in the NFL. They ranked at the bottom of ESPN.com's latest Power Rankings.

The trade deadline is Oct. 19.

Other veterans who might be able to help the Bills accumulate some draft picks for their rebuilding phase include receiver Lee Evans, defensive lineman Marcus Stroud, safety Donte Whitner and cornerbacks Terrence McGee and Drayton Florence.

From an on-field standpoint, the Lynch trade provides some clarity in the backfield. Gailey hasn't been able to get all of his running backs involved on a consistent basis.

Fred Jackson finished last year as Buffalo's feature back, but he has just 20 rushing attempts for 87 yards and the team's only ground touchdown through four games. The Bills drafted C.J. Spiller ninth overall, but he has 14 carries for 49 yards and no touchdowns.

Lynch was Buffalo's leading rusher with 167 yards. He had been getting a bulk of the carries, but that apparently was to showcase him for a possible trade.

Lynch's stay in Buffalo was checkered.

He sparked a civic controversy for his involvement in a hit-and-run incident in Buffalo's nightclub district two years ago. Last offseason he was cited for multiple gun charges and was accused of being in possession of marijuana in California. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Lynch for the first three games of 2009.

But the new Bills' front office chose to stick with him -- as they did with Edwards -- before figuring out weeks into the regular season they'd rather not have him on the roster anymore.

Jets at Bills inactives

October, 3, 2010
10/03/10
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The New York Jets and Buffalo Bills will be missing some notable starters for Sunday's game in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Each will be without their best defensive lineman, top cornerback and a quality linebacker.

Here are the inactives (the Jets' D-lineman I referred to is nose tackle Kris Jenkins, who's on injured reserve):

Buffalo Bills
New York Jets

Final Word: AFC East

October, 1, 2010
10/01/10
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NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:

[+] EnlargeMark Sanchez
Steve Mitchell/US PresswireMark Sanchez has had back-to-back games of three touchdowns and 120-plus passer ratings.
The Buffalo Bills might be better off to ignore Mark Sanchez this time. Sanchez is molten, with back-to-back games of three touchdowns and 120-plus passer ratings. But the key for the Bills will be to forget they intercepted him five times last year and to concentrate on the run. Sanchez leads the NFL in passer rating against five or more pass-rushers. So he's been dangerous against teams that come after him anyway. And let's not forget the Jets piled up an incredible 567 rushing yards and 6.8 yards per carry against the Bills last year. A steady ground attack will be even more appealing for the Jets because the Bills' front seven will be short-handed. Top defensive lineman Marcus Stroud and inside linebacker Andra Davis won't play. But last year's leading tackler, Paul Posluszny, will return from a knee injury.

Chad Henne should have another big night versus the Patriots' pass defense. The Patriots are having serious problems. Career backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick looked great for the Bills last week. Henne is coming off a 363-yard performance and Brandon Marshall exploded for 10 catches against a Jets secondary that's far more talented at cornerback than the Patriots are. Opposing quarterbacks have a 101.3 passer rating against the Patriots, fifth-highest in the NFL. They're averaging 260.3 yards a game. No defense has yielded more than the Patriots' seven receiving touchdowns.

Dolphins cornerback Jason Allen will be in the crosshairs again Monday night. Tom Brady will be looking Allen's way Monday night. With the respect cornerback Vontae Davis is garnering plus Allen's spotty track record, the choice is obvious. Allen was one of the heroes in Week 2, when the Dolphins went into the Metrodome and stole a victory from the Minnesota Vikings. Brett Favre tried to exploit Allen, who came down with two interceptions. But last week, Sanchez picked on him. Allen whiffed while trying to make a tackle on Braylon Edwards, and the play turned into a devastating 67-yard touchdown. Allen also committed a fourth-quarter pass interference in the end zone.

The Bills have cleaned up their act. The Bills were one of the NFL's most undisciplined teams last year. They committed 107 penalties for 855 yards. Their offensive line got flagged a league-high 48 times -- an outrageous 25 times for false starts. New head coach Chan Gailey has made substantial corrections so far. The Bills have committed 15 penalties through three games. Only six teams have been whistled for fewer and only four teams have given up more penalty yardage. Buffalo's offensive linemen have committed only six infractions, three of which have been false starts. Last year's biggest transgressor, left tackle Demetrius Bell, has been charged once.

My last word on Trent Edwards. I received a few notes regarding my critical stance on the Bills' decision to waive Edwards on Monday. The general sentiment was that Edwards was awful and deserved to be dumped. Let's not confuse the issue. I agree that Edwards had proved himself incapable of being Buffalo's quarterback. The issue, however, wasn't whether Edwards should keep his job. I questioned Gailey and general manager Buddy Nix because they assessed Edwards to be a worthy starter after six months of workouts and meetings, an entire training camp, four preseason games and three years of reviewable game film. A veteran coach known for his work with quarterbacks should easily be able to 1) identify a quarterback who doesn't deserve to be on his roster, and 2) figure out he's not worthy of the starting job to begin with. But eight days after Edwards started for the Bills (by Gailey's choice and not injury) and 24 hours after Edwards was the backup (not deactivated as the third QB), the Bills waived him. The end was justified. The means were indefensible.

AFC East captains selected

September, 11, 2010
9/11/10
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A look at 2010 captains in the AFC East and how they were chosen ...

Buffalo Bills (player vote)

Miami Dolphins (player vote)

New England Patriots (player vote)

New York Jets

  • Selected on game-by-game basis by head coach Rex Ryan.

Observations from Colts-Bills in Toronto

August, 19, 2010
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TORONTO -- The Buffalo Bills bounced back from a putrid performance in their preseason opener to beat the Indianapolis Colts 34-21 on Thursday night in the Rogers Centre.

Some notes and observations from the game:
  • Trent Edwards might have won the starting quarterback job with how he responded to one specific play. On a third-and-10 play in the first quarter, Colts defensive end Robert Mathis crushed Edwards while throwing. The hit knocked off Edwards' helmet and chipped a tooth. Two possessions and five plays later, Edwards hooked up with Lee Evans for a 70-yard touchdown bomb.
  • Bills coach Chan Gailey said of the sequence: "I never thought anything less would happen to be honest with you. All of our guys have moxie. You've got to have moxie to play quarterback in this league. I was impressed with that, really impressed with it. I asked after he got hit 'Are you OK?' He didn't even flinch. ... I think he's a tough guy."
  • If the Bills can count on three home-run plays a week, they'll be fine. Their touchdowns were a 31-yard C.J. Spiller run, a 78-yard Terrence McGee interception return and a 70-yard bomb to Evans.
  • Spiller's run snapped a string of 20 straight preseason possessions without a touchdown for the first-team offense. He's going to be fun to watch, one of those players who has a legitimate shot to score every time he touches the ball because he makes tacklers miss.
  • Backup quarterback Brian Brohm didn't get the most glorious opportunity to make an impression or gain ground on Edwards. Brohm could have gotten a series against the Colts' first-team defense, but Gailey sent Edwards out for a fifth possession with 11:49 left in the second quarter. Brohm entered the game with 6:05 left in the half.
  • Brohm's performance was OK against the Colts' backups. He threw a lot of high-percentage short stuff, completing 14 of 21 attempts for 125 yards with no touchdowns or no interceptions. He had a wonderful chance to throw for his first NFL touchdown right before halftime. The Bills had second-and-goal from the 5, but Brohm misfired on two passes. The Bills kicked a field goal.
  • Brohm set up the goal-to-go situation with a gorgeous pass and catch by Chad Jackson along the right sideline for a 26-yard gain.
  • Would have been nice to see Brohm air it out on third and long. In the third quarter, Brohm dumped off to Chad Simpson for 4 yards on a third-and-13 play. On a third-and-12 play two series later, the Bills ran.
  • Spiller was busy without Fred Jackson (broken hand) and Marshawn Lynch (sprained ankle). Spiller averaged only 14 carries his senior season at Clemson. He ran 10 times for 54 yards in a quarter and a half of work.
  • Spiller looked scintillating on his touchdown scamper, but his jitters and jukes didn't fool the Colts all the time. He averaged 2.6 yards on his other nine carries. He had runs that went for minus-6, minus-2, zero and 1 yards.
  • Overshadowed by Spiller was undrafted rookie running back Joique Bell, who ran 11 times for 80 yards and a touchdown. He's making a statement. Simpson, conversely, ran eight times for 8 yards.
  • The Bills' defense gave Peyton Manning some problems. He completed 8 of 15 passes for 91 yards and one touchdown with one interception. His 66.3 passer rating was less than half of Edwards'.
  • After an ugly opener against the Washington Redskins six days earlier, the defense rebounded with a great first series. Defensive lineman Marcus Stroud batted down Manning's first attempt. Cornerback Leodis McKelvin nearly intercepted a long ball to Reggie Wayne. Nose tackle Kyle Williams stuff Joseph Addai for a 3-yard loss on a screen pass.
  • Gailey said he was just wanted to give him more time in pass-rushing situations, but it's disconcerting to see last year's 11th overall draft choice, Aaron Maybin, on the field at the end of a preseason game.
  • Bills cornerback Ellis Lankster had another rough game. Taj Smith got behind him for a 43-yard touchdown strike from Curtis Painter in the second quarter.
  • Despite 35 points in the first quarter, the Rogers Centre was rather sterile again, just like the previous three Bills games played here. The announced crowd was 39,853 fans.
  • The crowd, however, got interesting in the final minutes. Perhaps the best play of the night: A Rogers Centre security guard chasing down a fan who sprinted onto the field with 1:55 left in the game. The fan had about a 20-yard head start, but the guard caught up to him and slammed his head to the turf. As the guard walked back past the Colts sideline, Wayne went out of his way to give him a high-five.

Bad news Bills lose another big player

August, 18, 2010
8/18/10
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Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey revealed Wednesday safety Jairus Byrd had groin surgery for a third time in the past 13 months and will be out indefinitely.

Byrd
Byrd
The problem is related to the sports-hernia surgery Byrd underwent before the end of last season. Still, Byrd managed to intercept nine passes in just 14 games (11 starts) and tied for the NFL lead. He was selected for the Pro Bowl but couldn't play.

"It looks like he's going to be out for a while," Gailey said. "We're hoping first game, but it may be not."

Buffalo's prospects for 2010 were dim enough without their roster being ravaged by injuries.

For context on how rough training camp has been, here's a loosely comprised list of their top few players, not counting punter Brian Moorman or kicker Rian Lindell.
  • Wide receiver Lee Evans: healthy.
  • Running back Fred Jackson: out four to six weeks with a broken hand.
  • Running back Marshawn Lynch: out three to four weeks with a sprained ankle.
  • Inside linebacker Paul Posluszny: missed first two weeks and preseason opener after groin surgery ... expected to play Thursday night against Indianapolis Colts.
  • Cornerback Terrence McGee: healthy.
  • Safety Jairus Byrd: out indefinitely after groin surgery.
  • Running back C.J. Spiller: healthy ... not sure yet where the rookie should rank on this list, but he belongs.

Did I forget anybody? Maybe you can put defensive lineman Marcus Stroud in there somewhere. He's also healthy.

Also hurt for the Bills: receivers David Nelson (leg), James Hardy (foot) and Marcus Easley (knee) and linebacker Chris Kelsay (shoulder).

Left tackle Demetrius Bell (knee) and right guard Eric Wood (leg) have been moved along cautiously as they recover from injuries suffered last year. Both are expected to play Thursday night.

Maybin cheap shot fires up Bills O-line

July, 30, 2010
7/30/10
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Aaron Maybin finally did something to stand out at Buffalo Bills practice.

And not in a good way.

In just the second session of training camp, Maybin drew the fury of the Bills' offensive line when he shoved running back Fred Jackson to the ground from behind at the end of a play during an 11-on-11 drill Friday morning. A brawl ensued.

Jackson hit the ground hard and yelled "Come on, man!"

From about 10 yards away, Bills center Geoff Hangartner stormed after Maybin. They engaged, hands in facemasks, until Maybin ducked down to pick up Hangartner from behind the knees and attempted to dump him with a wrestling move.

Offensive and defensive players jumped in to break them up. The combatants toppled to the ground and were being pulled apart when Maybin delivered a punch to Hangartner's cage. The fight happened about 20 feet in front of me.

"Do that again, Maybin! This is football!" defensive lineman Marcus Stroud hollered from a group of observers. Stroud, with his helmet off, was held out of practice for unspecified reasons. "You're supposed to get tackled!"

The tenor remained tense for a few more hard-hitting plays. Then Bills guard Eric Wood expressed a different sentiment to Maybin, the 11th overall pick in last year's draft who didn't start a game and finished the season with nine solo tackles.

"Give back some of that money you ain't [expletive] earned!" Wood screamed at the defensive huddle.

Maybin sat out all of training camp last year before signing a five-year contract that included $15 million in guarantees.

Wood was drafted 17 slots after Maybin last year. He started all 10 games before gruesomely breaking his left tibia and fibula. With a titanium rod in his leg, Wood was with the first-team offense when came opened Thursday.

Long-suffering Bills fans have to appreciate Wood's fiery reaction. I have a feeling the Bills will sell a few Wood jerseys once fans read coverage of Friday's fight.

Wood declined to comment when approached by Associated Press reporter John Wawrow.

"You hit our 1,000-yard rusher in the back when he's not looking, then it's going to cause some hard feelings with the O-line," Hangartner said. "We've got to protect our guy."

Maybin laughed off the altercation and said he didn't hear Wood's challenge.

"It is what it is," Maybin said. "It's a physical game."

"I'm never one to shy away from the contact portion of the game. If there's nobody who's going to be willing to get the practice started, I'll start things off for us."

Bills coach Chan Gailey will hold his daily news conference following Friday night's practice and was unavailable to share his thoughts about teammates tussling. Some coaches, such as predecessor Dick Jauron, abhor it because it demonstrates a lack of discipline and could lead to injuries. Other coaches like it because it indicates toughness.

When asked Thursday why he chose to put his players in pads on the first day of training camp -- Jauron always waited until the first Monday -- Gailey chuckled.

"We're in training camp, aren't we?" Gailey said. "Training camp is a time to go to work. We only have a certain number of opportunities to get out here and get better and be a physical football team. So we take advantage of every opportunity that we have."

Wood has a blast on first day of Bills camp

July, 30, 2010
7/30/10
8:38
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A goofy smile came over Eric Wood's cherub face.

Wood, the Buffalo Bills right guard who's returning from a Joe Theismannesque broken leg, got rolled up by a teammate in Thursday's training-camp opener.

[+] EnlargeWood
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesEric Wood has recovered from the leg injury that sidelined him in Week 10 of the 2009 season.
And it felt so good -- because Wood didn't feel a thing.

Wood's unsure who piled into him from behind on the first play of a nine-on-seven, inside run drill.

"I don't know if anyone was nervous, but a couple guys helped me up," Wood said. "It was kind of funny when I hopped up. Somebody said 'Well, that's it. Now you're good.' "

For Wood, it was a major mental milestone in his recovery. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went through a similar process last preseason, when he announced he was looking forward to getting whomped for the first time since his 2008 knee surgery.

"A lot of these guys have been really sympathetic of me and my injury the past couple of months," Wood said. "Now I'm just a football player again. I'm a teammate. I'm going against defensive linemen that are giving me full looks.

"Nobody's going to baby me. Nobody cares now. No one in the AFC East cares that I broke my leg. That's the way I've got to approach it, too."

Wood was the second of Buffalo's two first-round draft choices last year. The Bills obtained the 28th pick from the Philadelphia Eagles in the trade for Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters.

The Bills moved Wood, one of the top two centers in the draft, to right guard. He was having a fine season until Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Montavious Stanley -- now with the Miami Dolphins -- inadvertently rolled into Wood's lower left leg while trying to sack Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 10.

Wood's tibia and fibula snapped in a sickening way. He has a titanium rod and four screws in his tibia. He spent the first month of his recovery in a wheelchair then graduated to a walking boot before he could take -- gingerly -- his first running stride.

"He's had to come a long way, and that tells you a lot about Eric Wood's makeup," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "He would have been out earlier if he could've. He's proven to be a fast healer. He's able to push throughout the tough times, which a lot of guys are not able to do. He's made an amazing recovery, and we're the benefactors of that."

Wood's goal is to take every first-team snap throughout camp but added the Bills want to be cautious with him. He noted Friday "will be a big morning. We'll see how I feel. If it's sore, we'll probably hold off because we have a lot of time before Miami" in the regular-season opener.

Wood guessed he's a half-step slower than he was before the injury but claimed he's a better football player, more mature, more aware.

He insisted heavy reps are the only way to get back to where he was last year.

"It's a violent game," Wood said, "and playing O-line or D-line in the league, there's nothing I can do in the weight room to replicate hitting Marcus Stroud. He's 300-some pounds, has long arms and you have to push as long as you possibly can for five seconds or the duration of the play.

"Just getting out here and working is good."

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesJoe Cullen is back in the NFL, bringing energy and high-decibel levels to the defensive coaching staff.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The volume’s been turned up to 11 over at the defensive line area of the Jaguars’ practice.

Joe Cullen prowls and hollers, prods and hoorays as he pushes a revamped group that’s expected to revitalize Jacksonville’s defense.

Last year’s 14 sacks were the fifth-worst total in the league since it started keeping sack stats in 1982. Enter Cullen, a once successful coach in Detroit who made national headlines for passing through a drive-through naked, a stunt that ultimately landed him out of the league.

Now he’s been given a second chance as well as the first four picks of the Jaguars’ draft and a veteran rusher in free-agent addition Aaron Kampman.

The Jaguars didn’t do much behind that line. Veteran linebacker Kirk Morrison, acquired in a trade with Oakland, is the only real notable addition. A better pass rush, they say repeatedly, will do much to cure other ills like those at safety.

As Cullen had each lineman weave through four tackling dummies at minicamp practices that wrap up Monday, clubbing and ripping each one before turning left and flattening a fake quarterback, he left little unsaid.

“It’s time to get double-digit sacks around here Harv,” he bellowed to end Derrick Harvey, the team’s top draft pick in 2008. “Not four sacks. That’s what you were brought here to do: Rush.”

He urged “tempo, tempo” and his assistant, Ben Albert reminded the troops: “We’ve got to reclaim the line of scrimmage.”

“I think this is a great group they’ve given me to work with,” Cullen said. “…It all starts up front. Basically the organization and the team is depending on us to lead the team, to lead the troops.”

Two veteran linemen, newcomer Kampman and Reggie Hayward who came here in 2005, both love Cullen so far.

“I love his passion,” said Kampman, the former Green Bay star. “The position is so much about relentlessness, tenacity and obviously those are some of his strong characteristics as a coach. He knows a lot about rushing the quarterback. He’s learned from a lot of great guys in his career and one thing I’ve learned is you always look at the pedigree.”

Those influences include Chicago defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and Indianapolis defensive line coach John Teerlinck.

Said Hayward: “[Cullen’s] whole motto is to work hard, to go after it. He’s an intense little guy from upper New York or Jersey or somewhere. He says ‘tonic’ and not ‘soda’ and he’s a little fireball. That’s what you need, man. I think he’s perfect for what we’ve got going on.”

“The identity of the D-line is going to be hard work. We may not be as big as John Henderson or Marcus Stroud. But most of the time making plays is just effort. Do you give up? Or do you continue to work?”

The Jaguars hired Cullen in January with the blessing of commissioner Roger Goodell.

The quick recap of his fall: Cullen drove through a suburban Detroit Wendy’s naked in 2006 -- a scene later revisited through a Jon Kitna Halloween costume. Cullen was arrested for that and separately for a DUI, incidents that led to a suspension for one game by the team, another game by the league and a fine of $20,000 for conduct detrimental to the league.

The two cases resulted in fines and 10 days of community service as well as a judge's order to attend outpatient treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

“Motivated guys are great, right?” asked head coach Jack Del Rio. “Players or coaches, that’s what you want… I know Joe’s very hungry for an opportunity, when he’s been in the league and the line’s he’s worked with he’s done a nice job with and I think he’s very thankful for a second shot.”

“All I know is that there isn’t a single one of us that’s perfect, I know I’m not,” Kampman said. “This profession obviously puts you in a fishbowl and the great thing is that I know he’s addressed it with the group and is moving forward. Each and every one of us needs to be about redemption.”

Cullen started off our chat with an emphasis on how grateful he is to owner Wayne Weaver, GM Gene Smith and Del Rio for the second chance.

In three seasons in the same post in Detroit, he had pretty good line play on pretty bad teams. In 2007 the Lions jumped from 24th to ninth in the NFL in sacks, and the defensive line accounted for 28.5, seventh-most in the league.

But he was exiled in 2009 when the Lions started over with a new coaching staff. He spent the year as an assistant at Idaho State.

He and his 2010 draft class will get a lot of attention this year. His rookie pupils include tackle Tyson Alualu, the 10th overall pick from Cal, third-round tackle D’Anthony Smith and fifth-round ends Larry Hart and Austen Lane.

“They’re very talented, they’re very gifted,” Hayward said. “This is the time for someone to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got a lot at stake here. Now do you want to mess it up by being a goof off or do something special?’”

Cullen isn’t so much worried about quantity as quality in the sack department. He said he craves “impact sacks,” the kind that come with strips or turn field position at a crucial spot in a game.

The defensive line won’t be judged on sacks and can affect games in many more ways, Smith said.

“I think it’s about making the quarterback move,” Smith said. “You’d like to get him down a lot. But you make him move, most quarterbacks who can’t set their feet to throw, cannot throw the ball accurately. So you get opportunities for more pass break-ups, for interceptions and you certainly get opportunities to get off the field with an incompletion.”

Cullen’s hardly set modest goals, especially considering it’s a team with one very big star in running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

“We’re going to be the face of the organization and really be the group that creates a relentless attitude about getting to where we want to be,” he said. “So we’ve got to not just be good, we’ve got to be great in everything we do.”
The Jaguars' roster purge under second-year general manager Gene Smith will continue Monday with the release of eight-year defensive tackle John Henderson, reports Adam Schefter.

Henderson was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2002 and went to the Pro Bowl twice. Paired with Marcus Stroud in the middle of the defensive line, he helped give the team a strong-up-the middle, physical identity.

But he has worn down and not been nearly up to his earlier standard in the last two seasons, and was called out by coach Jack Del Rio for sitting out minicamp sessions last year with a shoulder injury.

The Jaguars used their top two picks in the draft for interior defensive lineman -- Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith -- and are set to move on with those two, Terrance Knighton and Atiyyah Ellison as their defensive tackles.

Jacksonville tried to move Henderson during the draft, but clearly had no takers -- more evidence of how little value veteran players had during the three-day draft.

Schefter also reports that the Jaguars have withdrawn their RFA tender offer to linebacker Clint Ingram, who becomes unrestricted. A trade for Kirk Morrison Saturday gives the Jaguars an upgrade, and they will now play with Morrison in the middle, flanked by Daryl Smith and Justin Durant.

That makes for three first- and second-round picks the Jaguars have dumped in recent days. Along with Henderson and Durant, they traded Quentin Groves to Oakland for a fifth-round pick.

The team now has just six of 15 first- and second-round draft picks from its seven drafts from 2000 through 2006 on the roster:

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