PITTSFORD – A familiar face is back with his hometown team after the Buffalo Bills re-signed receiver Naaman Roosevelt on Monday.
Roosevelt, 26, was on the field for the Bills’ second practice of training camp at St. John Fisher College.
“Things happen for a reason. I’m just feeling blessed right now and happy to be here,” he said after the workout.
Roosevelt most recently was a member of the Detroit Lions. He was released Friday, though, which freed him up to rejoin the team he started his NFL career with. Roosevelt originally joined the Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2010 out of the University at Buffalo. The former St. Joe’s star spent two seasons with the Bills, appearing in 16 games with 25 catches for 396 yards and a touchdown.
The 6-foot, 200-pounder was out of football in 2012 after being released by the Bills during final cuts. He spent training camp in 2013 with the Cleveland Browns, but couldn’t make it to the 53-man roster.
He faces a stiff challenge in doing so with the Bills, who are deep at receiver.
“Definitely intense,” Roosevelt said of the atmosphere after his first practice. “It’s definitely good competition. I think when there’s good competition like that, it makes everybody better.”
To make room for Roosevelt, the Bills released wide receiver Ramses Barden. A former third-round pick of the New York Giants in 2009, the 6-6 Barden signed with the Bills in January.
Buffalo also made a swap on the defensive side of the ball, releasing linebacker Nathan Williams and signing defensive tackle Landon Cohen.
Cohen spent time with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears during the 2013 season. The 6-2, 300-pound Ohio U. product has played in 40 career games for five NFL teams, starting eight while accumulating 30 tackles and six tackles for loss. Cohen entered the league in 2008 as a seventh-round pick of the Detroit Lions.
Come in off that ledge, Bills fans.
Electrifying rookie receiver Sammy Watkins is just fine.
Watkins, the early star of camp, took the collective breath away from fans at Monday’s practice when he was slow to get up after making a leaping catch of a tipped ball between three defenders. Watkins’ teammates immediately motioned for trainers, and the receiver slowly made his way off the field under his own power.
Watkins then rested on one knee on the sideline as head trainer Bud Carpenter examined him. Watkins later returned to practice, and coach Doug Marrone said afterward the receiver was poked in the eye.
“He’s fine,” were the reassuring words from the coach.
That’s good news for fans enthusiastic about Watkins’ potential just two days into a long camp. Watkins’ playmaking ability was again on display Monday, with the highlight coming when he got behind cornerback Mario Butler for a deep touchdown catch delivered by quarterback EJ Manuel. Just a few plays later in 11-on-11 work, Watkins caught a bullet from Manuel into a tight window.
“We brought him in here to do that, and he’s done a very good job,” Marrone said. “He’s made plays in this camp. You guys have seen it. And then we just need to make sure that we continue developing him. He’s going against good players. He’s working with the first team, so he’s going against our corners and all of our guys. He’s a good football player … and I think a lot of people are excited.”
In the latest twist of the Marcell Dareus soap opera, Marrone revealed the defensive tackle is currently excused from camp for “personal reasons.”
“All the players reported to camp. At the present time I’ve excused Marcell. He’s taking care of some personal stuff,” Marrone said.
That would be a court appearance in his native Alabama for felony drug charges stemming from an arrest May 5.
Dareus was formally accepted into a pre-trial program Monday that could result in the charges being dismissed and potentially expunged from his record, provided he successfully participates in the NFL’s substance-abuse program.
That could take up to two years, Dareus’ attorney, Rod Giddens, said late Monday night, but ultimately the league will determine that timeline.
“He’s a good kid,” Giddens said. “He just needs a little bit of help.”
Marrone said Dareus was expected back on campus by Monday evening.
From there, he’ll begin training with the team’s strength coaches, getting prepared to pass his conditioning test and thus being allowed to rejoin the active roster.
“He’ll be like everybody else. You’ve seen them before on the side training and getting ready to pass the physical,” Marrone said.
As for when Dareus will take that test, the coach said it would be up to the training staff.
“We’re not going to just put him out there every day. We’ll wait until our weight coaches say, ‘hey, you know what, we’re ready to go,’ ” Marrone said.
Linebacker Brandon Spikes left Monday’s practice after suffering from cramps. He was taken to a cooling tent next to the grass field adjacent to Growney Stadium.
Cornerback Brandon Smith suffered a leg contusion after colliding with safety Derek Brim, who made an interception on the play.
Also, linebacker Darrin Kitchens was carted off the field after suffering an apparent left leg injury during a special-teams drill.
Rookie left tackle Seantrel Henderson returned to practice after suffering a hip injury Sunday, as did receiver Marquise Goodwin.