The Buffalo Bills selected Marcell Dareus with the third overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. If early returns are any indication, Dareus should make an impact right away.
Dareus has been working with the first team since arriving at St. John Fisher College and had another impressive practice last night. Mark Gaughan notes that during team work, the big defensive end recorded two sacks just six plays apart. Similarly, Joe Buscaglia observed Dareus' dominance.
"The 343-pound Alabama product was constantly in the backfield disrupting plays and ending them before they even got started," wrote Buscaglia.
"Dareus made several plays during the team portion of practice, especially during the run game portion of practice." said Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com. "The Bills top pick was consistently filling gaps and meeting the ball carriers in the hole right at the line of scrimmage. During one-on-one pass rush drills he was also getting the best of most of the linemen he faced."
The rookie's play has impressed more than the media. Bills head coach Chan Gailey has taken notice of his new defender, as well.
"He did a great job. He was everywhere," said Gailey. "He’s a big, strong physical guy and he had a good night tonight. When he gets healthy I think he can really be something."
Dareus' linemate Kyle Williams, himself a Pro Bowl participant a year ago, is eyeing big things ahead with the former Alabama defender by his side.
"I think when me and Marcell are inside, I think if we’re getting after it and we’re running pretty hot we’re going to be hard to deal with," said Williams. "I think that he does some things better than I can, I do some things better than he does. I think we play well off each other. I don’t know if you watch practice very much, but I’m always talking to him. I’m always pointing things out to him. I think we’ve really got a chance to be good. I really do. I think we can do some things up front.
"I'm always talking to him," Williams continued. "I'm always pointing things out to him. I told him the only thing he's got to point out to me is when it's third-and-short because I like to jump the count a lot. So that's his only job to let me know so I don't jump offsides."
Linebacker Nick Barnett signed with the Bills during camp and said at the time that Shawne Merriman was a big reason why. Little did he know he would be adding Dareus' name to his list of helping hands.
"He's been getting better and better since I've been here," said Barnett. "He's already been a load, but the game is different when you get to the NFL. He's showing that he can play at this level.
"I think as far as his rookie year, I think Marcell is moving fast," Barnett continued. "Learning, playing the game. Playing with the speed, the strength is there. If he just continues to do what he does and he keeps that learning curve going I think its gonna be awesome. I think he's going to be a great player."
As for game situations, Dareus played the first quarter with the rest of the starting defense on Saturday night. On the second play of the night, Dareus was the guy in Jay Cutler's face forcing an underhanded throw for no yards. On his series-ending sack on third down, he popped the Chicago center back onto his heels with a powerful punch move before using his hands to split the double team and bring down the quarterback. On the second series, his penetration gave Caleb Hanie no room to step into the pocket, helping Merriman pick up his first sack as a Bill.
It's still early, but Dareus is showing he belongs in the starting lineup.