ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Big-money Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has one assisted tackle through two games. He'll miss Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos because of an ankle injury. And with all the changes made by the Bills' new regime, Dareus' future here seems anything but certain.
Yet when I asked Bills coach Sean McDermott this week if he's feeling the urgency he wants from Dareus, McDermott's response was tepid.
"At times. I'm going to be very honest about it -- at times. At other times, not really," McDermott told me. "This bus is moving and at the end of this year, we're going to have a pretty good feel for who's on the bus and who's not, and everyone knows that, I would hope. So, I would hope they've seen that from the moves we've made and the direction we're heading, the mindset we're embracing and the devoted mindset you need to have to win in this league. We're going in a certain direction for a certain reason, and we play and do things with a purpose. People that have that common purpose and want to share that common purpose, they'll be here."
Dareus, 27, hasn't matched the productivity of his early career since former general manager Doug Whaley signed him to a six-year, $95.1 million contract extension a little over two years ago. After recording 28.5 sacks in his first four seasons, Dareus has just 5.5 in 25 games over two-plus seasons since -- a stretch in which he served a one-game suspension in 2015 and a four-game suspension in 2016 for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Last month, the Bills sent home Dareus from a preseason game for violating a team rule. New GM Brandon Beane at the time said he didn't know if Dareus was on board with the direction the Bills are taking their program. According to one team source, Bills players have tried to intervene and get Dareus to turn things around, to no avail.
The overhaul McDermott mentioned has included, among other things, trading away receiver Sammy Watkins, linebacker Reggie Ragland and cornerback Ronald Darby. But Dareus' job seems safe for now. His $9.75 million base salary this season is fully guaranteed, as is $7.35 million of his $9.925 million base salary for 2018.