Marcell Dareus was back on the field for the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, returning to work two weeks after he and the team mutually agreed on him missing the remainder of voluntary spring practices in the wake of mounting legal troubles.
Dareus will not speak with the media during the three-day mandatory minicamp, with a Bills spokesman saying the team wants him to “focus on football.”
Bills coach Doug Marrone said earlier this month that Dareus was working through “personal issues,” but would not elaborate. The fourth-year pro was arrested twice earlier this offseason within the span of a month. On May 5, he was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia – both felonies – after a traffic stop in his native Alabama.
Then on May 30, Hamburg police charged Dareus with reckless endangerment in the second degree, reckless driving, participating in an illegal speed contest and other traffic violations after he was allegedly involved in a street race with teammate Jerry Hughes that ended when Dareus’ white 2012 Jaguar crossed over two lanes of oncoming traffic and crashed into a tree. According to police, Dareus exited the vehicle and fled the scene. He was uninjured.
“With him, it’s just kind of continuing to pour into him and hope that, I guess, his foresight improves – seeing a bad decision on the way and knowing that he shouldn’t make it,” defensive tackle Kyle Williams said. “I’m hoping that this is kind of a watershed moment for him, because he’s at a pivotal point in his career. He can do a lot of great things in this league, and hopefully for this team and this town. Hopefully it’s at a point where it’s an epiphany and he comes alive and turns a corner and does his best.”
Williams gave an honest assessment when asked whether he believes Dareus, 24, has gotten that message.
“I think he’s heard it from a lot of different levels – whether it be from his teammates, from coaches, I’m sure front office. So if you can’t get it from those three levels, maybe you’re not going to get it,” he said. “Hopefully, and I expect it to be a moment for him, where he kind of leaves all that stuff behind and moves forward.”
Hughes, who has not been charged in the incident, was adamant that it would not be a distraction for himself or the team.
“We weren’t drag racing, so no,” he said.
While the legal situation is yet to play itself out – Dareus is due in Hamburg Town Court on July 1, and has applied for a pre-trial intervention program in Alabama that could eventually lead to the charges being dismissed – the Bills are left with figuring out how to get the necessary help for a Pro Bowl talent.
“You can pour into people as much as you possibly can. We’re here together every single day. And you hope that when they leave the building, that some of those things that you poured into them, some of the ideas that you’ve given them, some of the direction you’ve given them, goes with them,” Williams said. “That’s kind of what we’re hoping sticks – and I think it will. I believe in him, and I think he’s going to do a great job.
“Everybody’s got their own circumstances. Yes, you’d hope that decisions would have been avoided, but like I said, that stuff is hopefully behind him. Myself and Mario (Williams), we’re going to continue to pour into him and hopefully show him the right way. ... I think he’s going in the right direction.”
On the field, Dareus lined up in his usual spot next to Williams on the Bills’ defensive line. He showed good quickness to get into the backfield for a would-be sack on one play, while Williams also made a stop in the backfield on running back Anthony Dixon.
“He’s a great player and hopefully he’s going to be here a long time, he’s going to figure it out, and he’s going to be one of the guys on the wall one day,” Williams said. “I think he can do that.”