PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Add a failed conditioning test to Bills starting defensive tackle Marcell Dareus’ string of offseason troubles.
Dareus missed the start of training camp Sunday because he did not report in shape, coach Doug Marrone announced shortly before the Bills’ first practice in suburban Rochester.
Though he declined to say whether he was disappointed in Dareus’ latest setback, Marrone said: “Obviously, you want your players to come in ready to go. We’re here for a long period of time, and we’ll make up for it.”
Marrone provided the update a day after the Bills placed the 2011 first-round draft pick on the active/non-football injury list.
“I just think right now he just needs to focus on getting himself ready, getting on the field, and focusing on football,” Marrone added. “And I think that’s what he’ll be ready to do.”
Dareus was not present for the start of practice.
Under the observation of trainers, he must now work himself back into shape, then pass the tests to be cleared for practice.
This isn’t a good start for a player who has encountered a series of on- and off-field problems over the past seven months.
In early May, Dareus was arrested in his native Alabama and charged with possession of synthetic marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Four weeks later, he was allegedly racing teammate Jerry Hughes when he crashed his 2012 Jaguar into a tree near a busy intersection not far from Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Dareus was charged with reckless endangerment and ticketed for several traffic violations, including drag racing.
The NFL could potentially discipline Dareus for his off-field troubles with a fine or suspension.
After the crash, Dareus consulted with Marrone and decided to take two weeks off from voluntary practices. He returned for the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp in mid-June, but did not speak to reporters.
Dareus’ troubles date back to the end of last season when he was benched for parts of the final two games for breaking team rules.
Marrone had previously taken responsibility for mentoring Dareus.
“I just want to make sure that I’m clear that everyone understands that I believe in Marcell, and I will do everything I can to make sure that we can get him on the right track,” Marrone said in June. “I’m going to do everything I can to help a 24-year-old man make better decisions.”
And yet, it’s unclear whether the player is listening.
Even Dareus’ teammates have publicly expressed concerns over his poor decision-making. Veteran defensive tackle Kyle Williams, last month, said he hoped the car crash was a wake-up call for Dareus.
“Hopefully, it’s to a point where it’s kind of an epiphany, and he comes alive and turns the corner and does his best,” Williams said then.