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Buffalo Bills wrap spring practices with red-zone work

By Mark Gaughan

The Buffalo Bills closed their spring practices today with a lot of red-zone work.

Once again, quarterbacks Kevin Kolb and EJ Manuel split most of the work, with Kolb getting the first snaps for the starting unit. Once again, the defense probably was a little ahead of the offense, which is to be expected at this point in the offseason.

Coach Doug Marrone on the end of the team's three-day minicamp and five-week spring workout schedule:

"Our goal was to make sure that we build and earn their trust and in turn they go ahead and do that with us. That was really the goal. I think everyone understands the things that come afterwards: offense, defense special teams, working on the scheme. Really building a relationship, making sure that we're all part of one team was important, that there wasn’t any separation. I think we’re able to do that.

"I'm very pleased with the amount of work we've gotten done. We reached our goal as far as what we wanted to get in. We reached our goal as far as teaching the players what our tempo is. They've responded in a professional way, which is greatly appreciated by myself and our staff, and we're excited. We're leaving here knowing that we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. But it's also hard work we're looking forward to."

In 9-on-9 session, a nice catch in the back corner of the end zone by Stevie Johnson on a throw from Kolb was ruled out of bounds by officials. Tight end Mike Caussin made a good catch in the back corner on a throw from Kolb.

Rookie tight end Chris Gragg dropped an excellent throw from EJ Manuel. But Gragg came back two plays later and caught a TD over the middle on a good Manuel throw, then made the catch on the same route he dropped for a TD on a throw from Kolb.

Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus disrupted several plays with pressure up the middle. Rookie cornerback Nickell Robey had an interception on an underthrown fade pass in the end zone by Manuel. Three plays later, Aaron Williams picked off a Manuel pass along the side of the end zone.

The practice ended with Marrone having Eric Wood and Jarron Gilbert try to field a punt. Neither was able to catch it. Then assistant coaches were called on to try. Receivers coach Ike Hilliard caught a punt. Special teams coach Danny Crossman dropped one. It appeared the reward had something to do with teammates doing or not doing push-ups.

"That's handling business and having fun," said Stevie Johnson. "That's what it's about. You've seen full OTAs and minicamps. We were handling business out there.

"It's not going to be perfect, but that's still business being taken care of. Then you've got to have fun. You've got mesh together. If it's straight business, you start to lose people that's not mentally there. Coach is doing a good job of balancing that out."


Aaron Williams | Chris Gragg | EJ Manuel | Eric Wood | Jarron Gilbert | Kevin Kolb | Marcell Dareus | Mike Caussin
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |