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Manny Lawson back on field, hopes to give Bills D some rattle

By Tim Graham

Outside linebacker Manny Lawson, the Buffalo Bills' first free-agent signing, was on the second-team defense today. He missed 10 voluntary workouts and must climb the depth chart.

Free-agent defensive tackle Alan Branch also missed voluntary workouts. He was on the third unit today.

"It's definitely not a position I want to be in," Lawson said after the opening of mandatory minicamp. "Anybody that's competitive, you don't want to be on the second team. You want to be a starter. That's what I'm going to strive for, getting that starting position back."

What you should know about Lawson and Branch's absences is that they came with coach Doug Marrone's blessing. Lawson and Branch were with their wives, who delivered babies.

"I spent a lot of that time going through that first couple weeks of trying to learn from the little one because at that point they dictate everything," Lawson said. "What coach said to me makes a lot of sense: 'If you're not happy at home, you're not going to be happy here.' So he allowed me to go back to my family and tend to my family's needs."

Lawson has gone from learning how to change a diaper to learning new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's system.

Pettine's philosophies are what attracted Lawson to the Bills in the first place.

"I really wanted to get back into a 3-4 scheme, and Coach Pettine and this staff is from that era," Lawson said. "Talking to them and meeting with them, all they said was, 'We're going to get after guys. We're going to get after the offense. We're going to get after quarterbacks.'

"From the scheme that our coaches are putting together, we're going to be a really good defense. We're going to be a defense you're really going to have to study on film and play hard against."

But Lawson knows he's behind the rest of the team.

Lawson attended the veteran minicamp before the draft (for teams with new head coaches), but he missed the others. He admitted he was having a harder time catching his breath than his teammates.

"You've got to prove everything out here," Lawson said. "New coaching staff, and whatever you did in the past doesn't mean anything now. You've got to start from scratch."


Alan Branch | Manny Lawson
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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 |