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Manny Lawson, Alan Branch make Buffalo Bills practice debuts

The veteran free agent defenders missed voluntary workouts this off-season for the very same, highly understandable reason.

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Two of the Buffalo Bills' biggest free agent additions this off-season were defensive lineman Alan Branch and strong-side linebacker Manny Lawson. Even though both players were signed several weeks before the 2013 NFL Draft, neither had yet made it to team headquarters for voluntary workouts and practices this off-season.

Both players were on hand for today's mandatory minicamp, however, and we now know why the two veteran defenders abstained from the voluntary portion of the off-season, as well: each welcomed children into the world.

Lawson, who was the team's first free agent signing this spring, is expected to be a starter in Mike Pettine's hybrid defense as an outside linebacker and situational pass rusher. Branch, meanwhile, will likely be used a significant amount as a rotational run defender. For now, however, they're behind, and they're being slotted into the lineup to reflect the amount they have to make up.