By Mark Gaughan
The Bills are 11 weeks into their season. Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso has played all 787 defensive snaps. Rookie receiver Robert Woods has played 614 snaps, which was 76 percent of the offensive plays before he missed the last two weeks.
Bills coach Doug Marrone is not worried about the proverbial "rookie wall," which can cause rookies to slow down the last month of the season due to the fact the NFL season is longer than the college season.
"I did when I was in the league," said Marrone, referring to his stint in New Orleans, which ended in 2008. "I’ve been out obviously for four years. And coming back I don’t see it as much now. I think practices have changed. The last time I was in the league, we had a couple rookies starting for us in New Orleans and we went to the playoffs. We really made a conscious effort to make sure those guys didn’t do that. Nutrition and weight lifting. They played extremely well throughout the playoffs. I don’t see that as much anymore. I do think if you’re not prepared, that could happen to you. I have not seen that in any of our guys. And a lot of our young guys you look at the snaps that Kiko has gotten and the snaps that Robert Woods has gotten, even though he was hurt the last game, they’re a lot of snaps. I don’t see those guys slowing down at all."
The reason is the schedule changes that restrict how much teams can hit in practice.
"The new collective bargaining agreement," Marrone said. "The way training camp is now. Normally you practice two days in pads, one day is in helmets and shoulder pads. That’s not the case any more. You’re only allowed one day in pads and you’re only allowed to do it so many times per year. Training camp. We all have those old stories, walking uphill both ways. But training camp was pads in the morning, helmets and shoulder pads in the afternoon, hitting every single day except Sunday. Everyone was reporting to camp the second week in July and playing X amount of preseason games. It was tough. I think when you’re a rookie and you’re going through that, that takes a toll on you. So I think the change of schedule has helped a lot of these younger players.”