PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Bills coach Doug Marrone blew up at his players on Thursday, sending a message that he’s fed up with too many fights and post-whistle shoving matches during practice.
Marrone cleared the field during the middle of a team drill and ordered players to run sprints after several of them exchanged shoves. That included receiver Marquise Goodwin pushing down rookie cornerback Sam Miller from behind.
Marrone then directed his anger at starting defensive end Jerry Hughes on the sideline.
Looking directly at Hughes, Marrone used several profanities in telling the player to stop complaining.
“Why can’t you handle it as players?” Marrone yelled. He then motioned toward the locker room and said: “Do you want to play on this team?”
Once again looking at Hughes, Marrone said: “If you’ve got a problem with me, you need to come and tell me.”
Marrone spent a few minutes meeting with Hughes following practice.
Walking off the field, Hughes referred questions about what happened to Marrone, and added: “the head coach took care of it.”
Afterward, Marrone said his comments were directed at the team and not Hughes.
“That’s directed at anyone who doesn’t want to be part of the team,” Marrone said. “I told Jerry that I love the way he practices and I love the way he plays special teams and how he goes about it. And we’ve got to get some other guys who are starters to do that.”
Marrone’s blowup occurred on the final day of practice at the Bills’ training camp facility in suburban Rochester. The Bills will have two more walk-throughs at camp — both closed to the public and media — before traveling to Orchard Park on Saturday for their preseason game against Tampa Bay.
Several fights have broken out during camp, which opened July 20.
The most intense fight occurred Wednesday when rookie defensive end Bryan Johnson ripped off the helmet of center Eric Wood and then connected with several punches.
Numerous veterans stepped in to defend Wood, who sustained a cut on his nose. Johnson was wrestled to the ground by guard Erik Pears and tight end Scott Chandler.
Hughes wasn’t involved in the fight, but yelled a few things from the sideline, including: “Twenty-one days in pads and counting. I love it!”
Marrone, a former NFL offensive lineman, said there’s no place in the game for fighting, that it shows a lack of respect for players, coaches and the game.
“Figure it out. We’re responsible for the integrity of the game,” Marrone said. “There is no use for fighting in the game of football. Period. End of discussion.”
Veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams spent time counseling Hughes immediately following Marrone’s blowup.
“We talked about being a pro and making sure we keep it that way all the time,” said Williams, a nine-year veteran and longtime defensive captain.
“We’ve been hitting on each other for a while and that kind of thing spills over from time to time,” Williams said. “But at a certain point, you have to be a professional and understand there’s guys here trying to make the team. And there’s a time that you’ve just got to walk away from it.”
Running back Fred Jackson, another team captain, welcomed Marrone’s outburst.
“I think guys got it loud and clear today,” Jackson said. “We weren’t getting anything accomplished in the beginning of it. So he had us go to the sideline, get it all out of our system and move on.”
NOTES: Marrone said WR Sammy Watkins (bruised ribs) and CB Leodis McKelvin (groin) have not been cleared to play against Tampa Bay on Saturday. Watkins has been limited in practice this week since being hurt in a 19-16 loss at Pittsburgh last weekend. McKelvin has missed the past two practices. … Marrone won’t say how long he expects to keep his starters in on Saturday. But he hasn’t ruled out playing his starting offensive line in Buffalo’s preseason finale against Detroit next week.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.