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Bills coaches want to change training staff; front office might not agree

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Buffalo Bills coaches want to change the organization's old-school culture, but they seem to be encountering internal resistance.

Key members of the staff have told me they want to update the training staff by replacing long-time head athletic trainer Bud Carpenter, but the front office is reluctant to support a switch.

Within the past few days at the NFL scouting combine, coach Doug Marrone and General Manager Doug Whaley have stressed player health is a top priority for the organization in 2014.

Marrone and Whaley also are said to be highly interested in changing the Bills' this-is-the-way-we've-always-done-it culture.

Carpenter has been a fixture with the Bills. He's entering his 30th season with the team and his 19th as its head trainer.

But the Bills' coaching staff is much younger than Carpenter is. When Carpenter was getting his start with the Bills, most of the current coaches were teenagers.

Sources told me at the NFL scouting combine the coaching staff is weary of Carpenter's old-school methodology. These sources believe Carpenter's "stim and ice" therapy is too outdated for today's athlete.

"Stim and ice" refers to electrical stimulation to the injured area and ice treatments.

The Bills have struggled with injuries previously, although last year was a relatively healthy one.

Still, rookie quarterback EJ Manuel missed eight games (two preseason, six regular season) with three knee injuries.

Marrone declared after the third knee injury that Manuel would start the season finale against the New England Patriots and stated the medical staff told him Manuel would not require surgery.

Manuel did not play against the Patriots and revealed three weeks ago he had another knee surgery.

Marrone and Whaley have indicated the Bills want to make sure Manuel has all the tools he'll need. The Bills have hired additional coaches and have spoken about bolstering his supporting cast.

Running back C.J. Spiller, safety Jairus Byrd and cornerback Stephon Gilmore also dealt with nagging injuries throughout the season.

The Pro Football Athletic Trainers Society honored Carpenter's staff with its annual award in 2007 for its response to tight end Kevin Everett's catastrophic injury, although team orthopedist Andrew Cappuccino and rehab specialists largely were responsible for Everett's recovery.

Prior to joining the Bills in 1985, Carpenter worked for one year with the Boston Bruins and served eight years as SUNY-Fredonia's trainer and intramurals director.

  • Mark Twain

    Out with the old. In with the new. Even if Carpenter is not responsible for the injuries, where there is smoke, maybe there is fire.

  • TeoPhyllo Stevenson

    Whatever they do, don't get Tampa Bay's staff, where staph infection ran rampant.

  • Ray Haight

    If there's no will to fire him, this is easily solved by promoting Carpenter to a job with no responsibility.

  • GoBucs

    Why would the Bills front office want to change anything, ever. You don't mess with success and nothing says success quite like the Ralph Wilson owned Buffalo Bills!

    • Mr. B

      "nothing says success quite like the Ralph Wilson owned Buffalo Bills!"

      With the possible exception of the Malcolm Glazer owned (4-12) Tampa Bay Bucs . . .

      .

  • Bob

    When you're 6-10 have to blame someone.

  • George Winston III

    Blame Bud for EJ being injury prone? There I have said it, EJ IS INJURY PRONE AND TAKE AT LEAST TWO GAMES TO GET BACK UP TO PLAYING WELL after an injury, after which he is INJURED AGAIN. EJ will never be an effective quarterback for the Bills.

  • ptato22

    The coaches are right - new methodologies emerge regularly in sports science. Also, when you've had 14 years without playoffs it's time to change everything. Let them do what they want - it couldn't possibly get any worse. Same old Buffalo mentality of being too "nice". It's a business so let them run it the way they want and then hold them responsible for either success or failure.

  • Mike Boumansour

    Crazy!!! Bud Carpenter is one of THE best trainers in the NFL or any sport. He constantly seeks experts in the field and pursues new procedures like multi-phase laser for improved healing. For "someone" to imply the Bills are using outmoded procedures is just ignorant. And his passion for the players is just terrific. Just look at the pic of him on his knees doing everything possible to calm the injured. Bodies heal at different rates and the Bills docs are the final authority. Should we fire the docs too?
    Marrone shoild worry about "replacing" 40% of his offensive line and leave this treasure we have in Bud Carpenter to do his job. Just Crazy!!!

    • Joe

      Hello, is this Bud Carpenter?

  • Ridgewaycynic2013

    Some trainer from Syracuse must need a job.

  • Darrel Farnham

    put tuel in as quar
    terback. emanuel will never make it. he keeps saying things are great. he had 3 passes blocked at line of scrimmage.

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About the reporters

Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

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.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.