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Doug Marrone says new, right-side OL looks set, acknowledges backup QB worries


Bills coach Doug Marrone says he's comfortable starting the season with Erik Pears and Seantrel Henderson on the right side of the offensive line.

Barring any injuries or unforeseen developments, they will take the field as new starters at the positions when the Bills open the season in Chicago. The veteran Pears made his first start at right guard in Saturday's preseason game against Tampa. Henderson, the rookie seventh-round draft pick made his first start at right tackle.

Asked about Pears today, Marrone complimented his play against Tampa defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

"I thought he did some really good things against who I respect as one of the top players at his position," Marrone said. "I like him there at right guard, and I like Seantrel at right tackle. I’m not going to totally commit myself to it. … If an injury occurs something might change. But if everyone remains healthy . .. and they continue to keep playing like they’re playing, I see that as how we’ll go."

That shift puts veteran guard Kraig Urbik in jeopardy of making the 53-man roster, if everyone stays healthy the next week. The starting left guard is Chris Williams. He sat out practice Monday due to a sore back and missed the Tampa game. But rookie fifth-round pick Cyril Richardson worked with the starters again in Monday's practice in Williams' place.

Meanwhile, Marrone didn't mince words about the team's backup QB situation, with both Thad Lewis and Jeff Tuel struggling during the summer.

Is it a concern that your backup quarterbacking isn't good enough, Marrone was asked.

"Yes it is," he replied. "I think it’s what you see. I think either they have to play better or we have to look to see if there’s someone that can better that position, like with any other position. If we feel at the end of the day it’s not good enough to win with – which we haven’t seen that yet – there’s only two ways to go. Either you put a lot of work into those guys and get them better till you get to that position where you feel comfortable with it. Or you have to upgrade that position some other way."

What about the starting QB? Asked if EJ Manuel gives him confidence the Bills can be a playoff team, Marrone said:

"At that position, we have to have people around him playing well, there’s no doubt about that. We have to play well around him."

"There are things that go on that are very difficult to see," Marrone said, referring to mistakes and breakdowns at other positions. "We’re going to progress with him. He’s not going to turn around and be a franchise guy overnight. That doesn’t happen often in this league. We’re going to work with him. He’s working hard to progress. We’re going to stick with him. I’m going to support him 110 percent, and we’re going to get him better. And the way we improve offensively is we make sure that as he gets better everyone gets better around him."


  • Otis

    By continuing to publicly complain about the talent at certain positions, Marrone is essentially throwing the blame at Whaley. I wonder if there is a rift there.

    • Paul Kawalerski

      I doubt it. I don't understand why he's blaming Tuel instead of EJ who looked terrible until the 2nd half.

  • Paul Kawalerski

    I'm a little confused with Marrone's take on Tuel. Frankly, I think he's moved the team just as good as EJ has. Yes he does have some inconsistencies and throws some picks, but at least he is not messing up screen passes and his deep ball looks better than EJ's. His passes also look crisper than EJ's. Considering he was a late round pick I don't see why Marrone is disappointed. By the way has anyone noticed Nassib's stats? Not to bad - 5 TDs, 0 Ints, 116 rating. I wonder if Marrone is regretting not bringing in his former QB instead of EJ at this point.

    • WHAT?

      Tuel has played with and against 2nd and 3rd stringers. Some things have looked good, others not so much. EJ does need to be more accurate. However. Marrone's comments that ""There are things that go on that are very difficult to see," Marrone said, referring to mistakes and breakdowns at other positions." Is also pretty accurate. Chandler fell, Hogan sat down when he should have continued running. EJ has been throwing when hit. The offensive line is allowing d-linemen to disengage and get their hands up. There has only been a limited play book being used, as noted by Steve Tasker the other night. Unfortunately, not even those are being executed well. The offense is a mess in general. This is as much a critical time for the coaches as it is for EJ.

    • cheektowaga

      see above…

  • E.A. Richards

    Tuel and Lewis are publicly excoriated, but EJ the Annointed One gets a vote of confidence.

    Hey Doug: Get your sh#t right!

  • mike finnerty

    I agree ...the coach is desperately trying to take the pressure off E.J. by trying to focus all of us on the backup QB situation, and I give Mark Gaughan credit for asking about EJ's lack of progress... I give Doug credit however to admit that EJ is a work in progress(as obviously is Doug) not ready for Canton....As a work in progress he was a solid fourth round draft choice..... Doug will have to do better than FSU's former coach Bobby Bowden in getting EJ to stop staring at his first receiving option, and not getting nervous when a defensive lineman puts his hands in the air...Bobby, one of the all time greats couldn't do it...Can Doug?...meanwhile his former Syracuse college quarterback who desperately wanted to play for the Bills, Ryan Nassib, continues to impress for the Giants....mmm...Grass isn't always greener, Doug...should have watched FSU films.

    • cheektowaga

      As I stated in another recent post.. Nassib vs Manuel developmental progression.
      Starts with tutelage that Nassib receives from Eli Manning…who has more quarterback knowledge in his finger nail clipping… than Coach Marrone has in is his wildest fantasy football team.
      Manuel is not getting quality developmental insight from this staff.
      Bills need a quarterback coach or a Quarterback that has NFL experience.

  • Chuck Mcfayden

    Bobby Bowden wasn't EJs coach Jimbo Fisher was at least know what your talking about

  • mike finnerty

    Hey Chuck.,.Bowden was EJ's head coach in 2008 and 2009...Elliot was named Coach in waiting in 2007 and took over helm in 2010.....EJ was QB when Florida put it to fact they were 6-6 entering the Gator Bowl that year....

  • Polish Prince

    EJ Manuel is not an NFL QB, and cannot make NFL throws, or even a simple 10 yard out pattern on a 3-step drop.

    If Marrone can't see that as NFL Head Coach, he will be fired, and should be fired.

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Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining 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.