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Doug Marrone coping with 'Welcome to the NFL' moment

By Tim Graham

All rookies eventually experience their "Welcome to the NFL" moment.

Whether it's absorbing a bone-crushing hit, making a youthful error or getting punked by a veteran, it happens to the best of them.

Coaches, too.

First-year head coach Doug Marrone likely is encountering his "Welcome to the NFL" moment right now. After a relatively smooth offseason and a 2-0 preseason start, the Bills have hit nasty turbulence.

"It's funny," a bemused Marrone said Monday. "My first thought process when I was younger was, when these things happened, I would say to myself, 'What did I do in my past to deserve this? ... I go to church on Sunday. I'm a good father, a good husband. Why did this happen?' "

Kevin Kolb's concussion in Saturday's 30-7 loss at Washington left Buffalo with undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel as its best option for the moment. Top cornerback Stephon Gilmore will miss six to eight weeks because of a broken wrist. Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd is disgruntled. C.J. Spiller's step-grandfather allegedly was involved in a mass shooting with multiple deaths, including a suicide.

"I compare life to the game of football quite a bit for our players," Marrone said. "Obviously, it's adversity and how do you deal with it. One of the things that I have not spoke to the team about that we'll talk about is, 'You know what? There's adversity and there's time for other people to take advantage of it and step up and how we deal with it.' "

Marrone, who called the possibility of Tuel starting Sept. 8 against the New England Patriots "exciting," kept a positive outlook on the issues that have cropped up. What else could he do?

"I would definitely view this situation as adversity," Marrone said. "So it's interesting to see for me true character does come out -- whether it's management, whether it's coaches, whether it's players -- to see how we're dealing with it.

"Now, you don't like to deal with it, but it is what it is. We're seeing a lot from the coaches and the players of how we deal with this type of adversity. Right now, it's been good. We went out there today and really had a good practice. Now it'll be interesting when we start going in to the season and the first week and how players do."


C.J. Spiller | Doug Marrone | Jairus Byrd | Jeff Tuel | Kevin Kolb | Stephon Gilmore
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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 |