Five snaps were sufficient for Stefan Charles to make a positive first impression on Bills coach Doug Marrone.
That’s all the playing time Charles got last week, but considering he was signed just four days prior to Buffalo’s game against Kansas City, it’s a good start.
“We were excited about that. You never really know. You see someone who’s big, you see someone that can move, and actually for a big guy has some pass-rush ability. You like all those things when you see them on film, but he hasn’t been in your scheme and played for you where you’re able to evaluate him,” Marrone said of the 25-year-old Charles, a native of Toronto.
Charles is a classic diamond-in-the-rough player. The 6-foot-5, 302-pounder played collegiately back home in Canada for the University of Regina. He was drafted 10th overall in the 2013 Canadian Football League draft by the Edmonton Eskimos, but instead signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans. He was cut prior to the start of the regular season.
Marrone credited General Manager Doug Whaley and Jim Monos, the Bills’ director of player personnel, with finding Charles.
“It’s going to be interesting. I really like what I see so far, someone that can really blossom into a heck of a player,” Marrone said.
Charles called the opportunity with the Bills a “blessing.”
“It’s like a second home. My family is two hours away. This is the first NFL game I ever went to. It was against the Titans in a preseason game in 2007,” he said. “I’m happy to be a part of this organization. My mom and some other family and friends came down last week. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Charles made a pair of tackles in his five plays against the Chiefs.
“They got me out there and got my feet wet,” he said. “Hopefully there’s more to come.”
Marrone indicated that is possible – depending on how quickly Charles learns the playbook.
“The tough part is knowing the system. We made sure when we put him in there, he was next to guys that can help him a little bit,” the coach said. “If the situation comes up where the personnel matches up, yeah, he’s someone we can see getting more and more playing time.”
Charles is exactly one pound heavier than Alex Carrington, whom the Bills lost to injured reserve earlier in the season. Marrone said he can see Charles developing into a nose tackle, but the team hopes to be able to use him as a three technique (a defensive lineman who lines up on the outside shoulder of a guard) or five technique (outsider shoulder of a tackle).
“The thing is when you have that versatility among those guys, then you can really watch the number of snaps,” Marrone said. “When the critical situations come up, you can put your best pass rushers on the field.”
Marrone sounded optimistic about the chances of having rookie receiver Marquise Goodwin in the lineup Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Goodwin practiced on a limited basis Thursday after sitting out Wednesday.
“I liked what I saw and I feel good about that now,” Marrone said of Goodwin after practice.
Fellow rookie receiver Robert Woods (ankle) did not practice for a second straight day. Quarterbacks EJ Manuel (knee) and Thad Lewis (ribs) were both full participants for a second straight day.
“EJ wasn’t sore or anything,” Marrone said. “That was the one thing we were waiting for. Barring any setbacks the next couple days, both he and Thad are ready.”
Marrone also said newly-signed fullback Evan Rodriguez will play Sunday, at least on special teams.
Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor (concussion) participated fully in practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday. The team’s starting offensive tackles, Kelvin Beachum (knee) and Marcus Gilbert (ankle), were limited in practice for a second straight day.