PITTSFORD — Running back C.J. Spiller was the most impressive player on the field for the Buffalo Bills Wednesday.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett suggested he hopes that’s the norm for the team this season.
“We’re going to give him the ball until he throws up,” Hackett told WGR Radio Wednesday morning, and he reiterated it after practice, throwing receiver Stevie Johnson into that category as well.
“That’s my goal,” Hackett said. “If he’s tapping out, I feel as though I’ve done my job. I think that’s critical. I think it goes the same way with Stevie. If you go up-tempo you have a lot of plays we’ll see how many people have to tap out.”
Spiller ripped off runs of 10 or more yards on each of his first three carries in 11-on-11 work. He had a 30-plus run around left end later in the practice. A crowd of about 300 watched at St. John Fisher College.
Hackett on quarterback EJ Manuel: “I can’t compliment that young man enough. I just can’t. He’s having so much fun out there and from a coach to be able to come in and give him a new system, something he’s never really done before and not only see him really work hard and try to get it, but his enthusiasm about it. Just the want and the desire and the work ethic. Then the fact that he can come out here and he can put it on the field. … We still have a long ways to go in my opinion. I think that we can still get a lot better.”
Hackett on quarterback Jeff Tuel: “Jeff’s really in rhythm right now. He’s really bought in to what we’re trying to teach, and I think he has made some very good throws. I think he’s put it in some good spots. He’s trusting his arm. He’s trusting his feet and he’s getting the ball out quick. Really the deep balls, it’s funny. Everybody thinks there’s a true science to it. Really when those fast guys are out there, we say just drop back and throw it as far as you can. He’s done a nice job and hit a couple of them.”
Hackett on running 50 yards to join the celebration after Manuel ended last Friday’s practice with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin: “I almost pulled a hamstring. That was a long, long run. That throw and catch by 88 and 3, that’s something I hope we get to hear a lot. Then you get to hear that sweet song, Buffalo “Shout” song, and be in there. I can’t wait to hear that and see that go down. I’ll be up in the box though, and I won’t be running down the stadium to go give them a chest bump, so I’ll have to stay up there for that one.”
Manuel and Tuel split the snaps at quarterback Wednesday. Quarterback Kevin Kolb remained excused from practice due to a death in his family. Kolb is expected to be ready to practice after missing a couple of days before he left due to a sore knee.
“Right now, barring any transportation delays, we expect him in late Thursday night, coming back here sometime in the morning, which helps us for the evening practice,” coach Doug Marrone said. “And we expect him back and ready to go after he sees the doctor and the doctor says yes.”
Kevin Mawae was quick to praise the Buffalo Bills when they hired Doug Marrone as head coach in January. Mawae was a star center with the New York Jets when Marrone was their offensive line coach from 2002 through 2005.
Now retired, Mawae wants to keep learning from Marrone. The Bills announced Mawae is among their five recipients of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship and will work with the team through training camp.
Mawae, an eight-time Pro Bowler, joined the O-line staff Monday.
Marrone “did a great job of teaching concepts,” Mawae said after Marrone was hired. “As a young player, a lot of times you worry just about your assignment and who’s in front of you. But Doug taught us concepts of, ‘We’re doing this slide protection because it’s going to complement the running game in this way. We’re going to run this protection and show this kind of front so we can get the defensive backfield to react certain ways.’
“And he would be able to teach it to you in a way where you understood it, where it wasn’t complicated physics.
“He coached tight ends and he knows the passing game. When we would talk X’s and O’s about pass-protection schemes, he would be able to teach you about coverages, Cover 2, rolling coverages, what to expect. He opened the game up for a lot of the guys on the offensive line beyond the” line of scrimmage.
This year’s other Walsh Minority Coaching Fellows are former Syracuse running back Antwon Bailey, North Texas assistant Michael Grant, University at Albany assistant Matthew Scott and Jamar Nesbit, who played 11 years on the offensive line in the NFL.
Safety Mana Silva left the team Monday, but was not excused. Silva’s agent, Josh Arnold, told the Associated Press reporter John Wawrow that Silva is dealing with personal issues.
“He did not contact me or speak to me about his decision, why or what,” Marrone said today. “I’m concentrating on the guys that are here.”
The Bills placed Silva on the exempt-left squad list Tuesday. Added to the roster was safety Mark LeGree, who was issued No. 30, Silva’s number. LeGree entered the NFL as a fifth-round pick of Seattle in 2011 out of Appalachian State. Silva played seven games for the Bills.
Besides Kolb, also not practicing were: Johnson, Kevin Elliott, Leodis McKelvin, Justin Rogers, Zach Brown, Keith Pough, Aaron Tipoti, Keith Williams and Mike Caussin. Marrone said McKelvin was a little sore after the scrimmage Monday.