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Buffalo Bills practicing "sponge theory" installing offense, defense

Think the Bills are taking a slow and steady approach to installing their new offense and defense? Think again.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

The Buffalo Bills are installing new schemes on offense and defense under head coach Doug Marrone, and his top two coaching assistants have made it clear that they're not holding anything back in said install - at least initially.

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who is installing a complicated defense that will ask most of its players to be able to play multiple positions, told reporters on Tuesday that he's throwing as much scheme at his personnel as possible in May minicamps and OTAs.

"We've still had to throw a lot at them schematically just to get them up to speed," Pettine said Tuesday. "We don't want to go too slow with it. I've always been a big believer of the 'sponge theory' - we want to throw stuff at them until we feel it's saturated, and then pare it back. I think we've done a good job blending the fundamental stuff with the schematic part of it, and the guys have responded and they've really got - I can't say their nose in the books anymore, I've got to say nose in their iPads - but they've done a good job with it."

While Pettine did admit that the club is still in the "infant stages" of learning the defense, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett spoke similarly in that he's trying to put as much of the offense in front of his players as possible in the early going.

"We're trying to wrap (the install) up here. We want to try to get as much as we can in within this time, within the minicamp, and just kind of throw everything at them and see how they kind of grasp it all," Hackett said Tuesday. "The big goal for a coach is to find out what they're good at, and I want to be able to put all of that stuff out there, find out what they're good at - what the line can block, what the receivers can run, what the quarterbacks can throw - and then figure out what those guys do the best, and then we want to do that a whole lot. So that's kind of what we're doing now, just throwing everything up there and seeing what's going to work the best."

Buffalo has one more OTA practice this week, then four more next week from Tuesday through Friday. They'll then re-convene for a mandatory minicamp in June, which will be their last full-team gathering until training camp begins in late July.