GM Whaley: Marrone will chose Bills starting QB

BILLS

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Eat your heart out, Rex Ryan. Head coach Doug Marrone will choose who starts at quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.

While New York Jets GM John Idzik on the weekend insisted on having “a pretty big role” in the eventual collaborative “team decision” in choosing his team’s starting signal-caller this season, that’s not the case with the Bills.

In an interview Sunday night, Bills GM Doug Whaley told me that his role and that of his player personnel department stops short of that.

“Oh, that’ll be Coach’s decision,” Whaley said. “(Marrone) will have input obviously from his assistant coaches, and myself and our scouting staff, but that’s Coach’s decision.”

As on the Jets with Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, the Bills’ quarterback battle pits a much-maligned veteran, Kevin Kolb, against a much more athletic and stronger-armed but raw rookie, EJ Manuel. (My photo, below.)

That Bills position battle, and others, kicked off Sunday night when the team held its first training-camp practice at St. John Fisher College. (My photo of Marrone, right)

Earlier on Sunday in Cortland, a two-hour drive southeast of Pittsford, the head coach of the Jets, Ryan, was grilled for 12 minutes at his daily news conference about not holding the hammer in choosing between Sanchez and Smith.

“I’m the guy who sits down and (tells) the quarterbacks,” Ryan said. “But at no time is it a one-man show. It’s always a team decision, and that’s the way it’s always been.”

Ryan was reminded of instances in years past when he specifically said he had made an important roster move, such as benching Sanchez last year. On Sunday Ryan said he had misspoken those times.

Neither Idzik nor Ryan would say who ultimately will decide between Sanchez and Smith in the event they cannot agree.

BILLSWith the Bills, even if Whaley ultimately thinks Quarterback A should start but Marrone and his staff opt for Quarterback B, then Quarterback B will start.

“Whoever Coach decides, I’m behind 100%,” Whaley said.

“Our philosophy is, once it turns to football season, myself and our personnel staff, we’re support staff. We are supporting Coach in whatever he needs. Any type of tools that we can give him to go out and win games — that’s what we try to service him with.”

The Bills are not alone in that regard, of course.

“Every team I’ve been with, (that’s the case),” Whaley said. “I can’t talk about other teams, but with the Steelers and Seattle — hey, the Coach is the mouthpiece of the team, and the coach makes all the decisions on who plays in every game, and we just support him.

“If he comes to me and says, ‘Hey, I need to upgrade this here, or I need an injury replacement there, then that’s when we come in.”

After Sunday night’s practice, Marrone told me that it’s not as though he and his coaches will make that decision in isolation.

“It’s like the draft and anything else here,” Marrone said. “Doug (Whaley) and I have always been able to communicate and work well together … I will talk to Doug quite a bit about it, probably on a daily basis, as well as all the other positions on the team.”

 

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BILLSMario Williams sits out first practice with foot injury

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Mario Williams merely watched as his teammates knocked helmets for the first time Sunday night at Buffalo Bills training camp.

The $100-million elite pass-rusher hurt a foot and did not practise.

“Mario reported to our athletic training staff that he had a sore foot,” head coach Doug Marrone told reporters afterward. “We decided to hold him out of practice, and let our medical staff evaluate him.”

That was at about 8:30 p.m. EDT, and no update was provided.

Williams dressed like his teammates, in helmet and soft pads. (My photo, right.) With all obvious qualifiers applied, it did not appear to be a serious injury.

Williams signed his gargantuan six-year deal with the Bills in March 2012. He battled a wrist injury over the first half of last season and finished with 10.5 sacks, tied for 17th in the league.

“It’s not a disappointment from a standpoint of, gosh, I wish the player was out here for the rest of the team,” Marrone said. “It’s more of a disappointment for the individual.

“Mario has put in a lot of hard work, and went in the playbook and did a lot of work this off-season. So I always have initially a disappointment for the player, because I think we tend to forget how much work they put in, and you have a player that definitely wants to be out here.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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