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Buffalo Bills

Stadium: Ralph Wilson Stadium | Coach: Doug Marrone
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense24th97.5 (22nd)225.5 (20th)
Defense4th98.4 (8th)213.8 (5th)

Whitner open to stay

The Sports Xchange
 
Notes, Quotes · Strategy And Personnel · Whitner open to stay
 

Safety Donte Whitner said he wants to be back with the team this season, despite recent comments by general manager Buddy Nix.

He also talked about his relationship with fans where he has parried with some on Twitter. Some have called Whitner "whiny" and "a joke." He recently tweeted, "Hello to my haters. Yall can't faze me."

He said, "Twitter is fun. I don't mind being cussed out. Bills fans are very passionate. It has to go on someone and I'm not going to hide from it. I believe when I get back to Buffalo and help turn this thing around, everything will be forgotten."

As for the words of Nix, who said he believed Whitner didn't want to be in Buffalo anymore so he probably wouldn't, he said, "Well, I have something to say about that. I don't think I've ever said that I don't want to be there. I do want to be a Buffalo Bill."

The story has been fueled by the belief that Whitner wants a long-term contract after his five-year deal expired. However, if the 2011 season is played under 2010 free-agency rules, Whitner would be a restricted free agent.

While hoping for a long-term deal, he insisted he would be fine playing under a one-year tender.

"I wouldn't have any problem with that," he said. "I'm not going to go in there and be a cancer to the football team. I'm not going to go in there and act out of character. I'm going to go in there and do what I've been doing for the past five years. I'm going to lead."

He also explained his hasty departure the day after the season ended when he cleaned his locker, but was gone before the media arrived. Upset with the contract situation, he didn't want to say anything he would regret later.

Whitner said, "That morning, I got up very, very early. I went in there, took my physical, cleaned out my locker and went home. And that was the end of that. It had nothing to do with the Buffalo Bills, Chan Gailey or Buddy Nix."

--After watching their team finish last against the run and opposing quarterbacks rack up 28 touchdown passes, Bills general manager Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey hardly viewed the chance to draft Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus as a consolation prize.

On Day One of the NFL draft, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton went to Carolina No. 1 overall and Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller went to Denver No. 2, leaving Dareus available when it was Buffalo's turn to pick.

They didn't hesitate.

"We really didn't think he'd be there," Nix said. "I know everybody says that. But we're excited."

In the final days leading up to the draft, Dareus - the most versatile defensive lineman in a draft deep with defensive linemen - was rumored headed to Denver. But along the way, Miller became more appealing to the Broncos.

That suited Buffalo just fine as Miller was seen as too small to excel in the hybrid 4-3/3-4 scheme Gailey plans to use. Dareus isn't small. He's 6-2, 319 pounds and with his athleticism is projected as someone who can play in any scheme the NFL can cook up.

One highlight clip shown on ESPN had him hauling down the elusive Newton for a sack.

"How many 320-pounders have you seen do that?" crowed Nix.

Buffalo's offense ranked 32nd against the run, allowing a grotesque 170 yards rushing per game. In their own division, Miami, New England and the New York Jets rushed 233 times for 1,163 yards and nine touchdowns in six games against Buffalo.

Dareus, who helped Alabama win the 2009 national title, compiled 70 tackles, 11 sacks and 20 tackles for loss and 20 quarterback pressures in his career. He can rush off the edge as an end or shift inside over the guards.

"He fits in every scheme, that's the great thing about him," Gailey said. "He's a force to be reckoned with, a big, strong, physical man. I think we got better today."

A quarterback would've made Buffalo a better team, too.

It was known that Newton, the polarizing Heisman Trophy winner, was No. 1 ranked on the Bills' draft board and it's believed Dareus was No. 2. Had Denver selected Dareus second, Nix confirmed that selecting a quarterback would've been seriously considered with their pick with Missouri's Blaine Gabbert likely getting the nod in Buffalo's war room.

Gabbert was among four quarterbacks that went in the first dozen picks. Buffalo is still likely to draft a quarterback somewhere over the weekend, maybe even as high as the second round with the 34th pick.

"To me, the 34th pick is like a first-round pick," Nix said. "It (a quarterback) would be in the mix. I think we have several needs and the best player to fill those needs is who we'll take."

Dareus fills a huge need for Buffalo to get bigger and better in its defensive front seven.

"I accept it with open arms," Dareus said of the task of helping Buffalo's run defense improve. "They want to stop the run and I have to do everything in my power to make it happen."

With killer tornados touching down in his home state of Alabama, Dareus was dealing with a lot of emotions on draft day. He said his family was safe.

"Everybody else here (in New York City) was praying for me and I'm glad my prayers were answered and I'll be going back home to see my brothers and sisters," said Dareus, one of seven children.

First he was scheduled to meet his coaches and the media on Friday in Buffalo.

--The Bills made it clear they wanted a "franchise-type" quarterback with the No. 3 pick in the draft.

So when Auburn's Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton went first overall to Carolina, their focus shifted immediately to improving one of the worst defenses in the NFL with a vengeance, starting with the selection of versatile Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus.

"When he was there and Newton was gone, it was an easy pick," general manager Buddy Nix said.

The Bills had four picks in the Top 100 and used them all on improving a defense that ranked last against the run and 28th in points allowed.

Dareus, who has Pro-Bowl ability, Texas cornerback Aaron Williams (34), Louisiana State inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (68) and North Carolina strong safety Da'Norris Searcy (100) represent a serious push to get better. Last year, opponents averaged a generous 32:20 in possession time.

BEST PICK

Defensive lineman Marcell Dareus: The Bills had the worst run defense in the NFL last year, yielding nearly 170 yards a game. They also had one of the league's weakest pass rushes after Aaron Schobel retired. In the 6-3, 319-pound Dareus, Buffalo gets a player who can start immediately and make it better in both those important categories.

COULD SURPRISE

Inside linebacker: Top-rated inside linebacker Martez Wilson of Illinois was still there with the 68th overall pick, but Buffalo's coaches were impressed with Sheppard from Senior Bowl week workouts. He plays with a burning desire to succeed and at 6-2, 250 has the skills to start should the Bills lose Paul Posluszny in free agency.

A closer look at the Bills picks:

Round 1/3 - Marcell Dareus, DL, 6-3, 319, Alabama

The Bills landed the perfect fit for their hybrid defense, a player that can rush the passer as an end in a 3-4 or dominate the inside as a tackle in a 4-3. Boasting 70 tackles, 11 sacks and 20 pressures for his career, Dareus was the most versatile defensive lineman in a draft where a record 12 defensive linemen were taken in the first round.

Round 2/34 - Aaron Williams, CB, 6-0, 204, Texas

Williams, who also projects as a possible safety, has the size to cover stronger receivers and also be an asset against the run. He collected 97 career tackles, including 11.5 for loss, and forced six fumbles.

Round 3/68 - Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, 6-2, 250, Louisiana State

Could prove to be one of the steals of the draft. He relishes his role as quarterback of the defense and is another piece toward improving the NFL's worst run defense. Brings a huge body of work with 311 career tackles, 26 for loss, and 5.5 sacks.

Round 4/100 - Da'Norris Searcy, SS, 5-10, 223, North Carolina

This is a wise insurance move in the event the Bills lose Donte Whitner in free agency. Searcy has rare size-to-speed ratio and adds to a deep pool of return specialists on the roster.

Round 4/122 - Chris Hairston, OT, 6-7, 325, Clemson

The Bills needed another candidate to compete for their starting right tackle job. Hairston recorded 31 pancake blocks and gave up just one sack playing left tackle as a senior.

Round 5/133 - Johnny White, RB, 5-10, 205, North Carolina

Strong inside runner with superb hands, he could wind up the perfect complement to Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller.

Round 6/169 - Chris White, ILB, 6-3, 240, Mississippi State

Overachiever finished fourth in SEC with 105 tackles and six sacks. Can also play inside and adds to depth at position of need.

Round 7/206 - Justin Rogers, CB, 5-11, 180, Richmond

Was the best shutdown corner in Colonial Athletic Association. Adds to their depth.

Round 7/245 - Michael Jasper, DT, 6-4, 375, Bethel

Bills saved the biggest for last. Jasper shed 73 pounds since January and will make for interesting copy.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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