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PITTSFORD – Bills linebacker Nigel Bradham was surprised to get a one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy Wednesday but said he has learned a lesson from the incident.

The NFL ruled that Bradham must sit out the season opener as a result of being stopped in Aug. 2013 for possession of marijuana in the Town of Tonawanda. The charges from the incident were dropped. Nevertheless, the incident happened, and the NFL handed out its punishment.

“My whole thing is to stay positive, man,” Bradham said. “It’s something that followed me from last year, a decision I made. I regret it. I made a mistake. I apologized to my teammates. I’m sorry that we gotta go through this again. Hopefully, I just get past it and come out Game Two ready. I’m going to just keep working every day out here in training camp and getting better.”

Bradham appealed the decision earlier this month, but the NFL denied the appeal.

“Everything was dismissed,” Bradham said. “It’s kind of shocking and it’s kind of disappointing that it came back again.”

Last September, a Tonawanda town justice granted Bradham a six-month Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal of the charges. As long as he had no run-ins with the law, the charges would be dropped with no further court action. The NFL no doubt waited until that occurred in March before making a final review of Bradham’s case.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate, especially since Nigel has been playing very well,” said Bills coach Doug Marrone. “Like I said before, I’ve probably seen the biggest improvement in him. And when I say that, I’m not just talking about him as just a football player, but just maturity. I think, now when you look back and you think about what happened, maybe it took something like that for him to grow. Obviously, you learn from your mistakes.”

Bradham is starting at outside linebacker. Rookie Preston Brown is behind Bradham and is the favorite to get the start in the opener Sept. 7 in Chicago. Bradham will be allowed to practice and play through the preseason.

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The Bills’ practice was delayed for an hour due to a lightning storm in Pittsford. Nevertheless, the team came back out on the field for the final 45 minutes of practice after the delay. A crowd of more than 1,000 had to leave once the lightning started.

“We were off the other day,” Marrone said. “In the past, we haven’t really come back from our off days and had good practices. But that’s in the past. They came out and they were ready to go, and we were having a good practice. Obviously, lightning caused us to get off the field, which could happen during the year. It’s happened to me in games before and you’ve got to kind of wait it out and get yourself ready. It was good for us to practice that situation, and our goal is to get as much work in as we can. And that’s what I told them. I was happy with the way they came out after that break. We got everything in, from the standpoint of the plays we wanted to run. I think that was important. I told the them we’re a team that needs to work.”

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Offensive lineman Chris Hairston left practice early due to a sore back. Rookie Cyril Richardson took some snaps with the starting unit at right guard, rotating with Kraig Urbik. … Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and Leodis McKelvin were rested during team periods.

email: mgaughan@buffnews.com