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Video: Doug Marrone annoyed, defensive about Mario Williams questions

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone had few answers about Mario Williams' foot injury again today and got chapped with reporters for asking about it.

Williams, the Bills' highest-paid player, was absent for a second straight day of practice at St. John Fisher College. He attended Sunday night's opening session but didn't participate in drills because of a sore foot.

The Bills still aren't saying when Williams will return to the team or how hurt he is.

Marrone made an opening statement about the first padded practice and fielded a question about the offensive line before Associated Press reporter John Wawrow asked for an update on Williams' status.

"I have not had any contact with anyone in regards to Mario," Marrone said.

Williams passed his camp physical but reported his foot injury to the Bills' medical staff before Sunday's practice. That a team doesn't know the extent of a player's injury, particularly a superstar's, two days after the fact is unusual.

Marrone wasn't exactly peppered with questions about Williams before he got agitated and defensive. He repeatedly suggested that reporters thought he was lying.

What he should understand is that it's the situation we're curious -- and perhaps cynical -- about. Williams has a track record of strange injuries.

Last year, he complained of a wrist issue the Bills didn't think was serious enough to list on the injury report. Williams had surgery during the bye week and performed well down the homestretch. Team sources told me they were convinced the surgery wasn't necessary and perhaps provided a placebo effect.

Back to Marrone's news conference ...

After Marrone spoke at length about running back Fred Jackson, Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan asked the second Williams question: Have you been told when Williams will return to St. John Fisher?

"I have no ... I really haven't," Marrone said. "And, again, I apologize for that. Like I told you guys before and I said it, I have no new information from yesterday. That's the God's truth. And that's really it.

"I know and I appreciate that everyone has to ask that question. I totally get it. I really do. But I promise you I'm telling you the truth. I really have not had any notice from the doctors or anyone above me on the situation. The minute we do, I promise you we'll let it out."

The Bills' website confirmed Williams still was "off campus" as of early this afternoon.

Marrone was asked if a coach should be aware of Williams' status by now.

"I am aware of what's going on," Marrone said. "It's the same as yesterday. It's still in the process."

Is he still being evaluated, Wawrow asked?

"He's still being evaluated, yes," Marrone said, providing a tangible update that he should have said up front.

Channel 2 sports reporter Stu Boyar asked whether it was odd not to have heard from Williams by now.

"No," Marrone said. "I mean, we have a great relationship."

Marrone then was asked about the first training-camp fight between cornerback Crezdon Butler and rookie receiver Robert Woods, two questions about cornerback Justin Rogers (didn't see any snaps this morning), for his thoughts on cornerback Leodis McKelvin, updates on the progress of new offensive linemen Antonie Caldwell and Tony Hills, thoughts on defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and safety Aaron Williams' switch from cornerback.

Marrone had settled down, but an attempt by Wawrow to ask another Mario Williams question was cut off before it could be asked.

"I'm going to say this. I want to say something, and then I'll let you say your piece so we're all on the same page," Marrone said. "I'm a straight shooter. You could ask anyone that's ever known me from when I was a kid. I'm shooting you straight, OK? I understand you have a job to do. I have an appreciation for it.

"My answers are going to be it's the same situation as it was yesterday. For me to speculate, I never speculate until I hear from the medical staff. ... The doctors go through an evaluation process, and when they inform me, that's when I know. It's as simple as that.

"I get frustrated, honestly, when it gets to a point where I feel like I've tried to explain myself and how I handle the injuries, and I've answered the questions, and you keep coming at me, all right?"

Marrone then asked Wawrow to call a third-down play from the Bills' system.

"That's not my job," Wawrow replied.

"Do you know the play?" Marrone asked.

"I really couldn't tell you because I've not seen your playbook," Wawrow replied with a shrug.

"Right, OK?" Marrone said. "I haven't talked to the doctor. I haven't seen the playbook."

Wawrow then attempted to ask his question.

"I'm done!" Marrone shot at him. "I'm not answering any more questions about Mario Williams until the doctor gives me this."

Wawrow asked if Williams' absences were excused by the team.

Marrone looked incredulous.

"Obviously, if we sent him to get evaluations he's been excused by the team," Marrone said. "That's not a legitimate question."

I asked Marrone on Monday whether Williams went "off campus" to see a team doctor or a personal doctor, and Marrone declined to answer, saying only that team doctors still were evaluating Williams. That doesn't mean Williams went "off campus" at the team's direction.

Marrone, who had coached at Syracuse University the past four seasons, also cited FERPA regulations for not being more forthcoming about Williams on Monday. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act would pertain to college kids, not professional athletes.

"My frustration is I can't answer that question when I don't have the information," Marrone said.

"I tried to do a good job. I really did. I really did, guys."

I'm taking Marrone at his word here. I do believe he's trying to be as honest as he can.

That still doesn't overshadow how peculiar this whole Williams situation seems right now.

tagged

Doug Marrone | Mario Williams
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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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]


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 | [email protected]

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