Dareus was handed a four-game suspension by the NFL for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He will have to sit out a very difficult opening stretch for the Bills -- at Baltimore, home against the New York Jets and Arizona, and then at New England.
Dareus sat out the 2015 season opener against Indianapolis as punishment for his initial substance abuse offense. This second one was the result of a missed test which, according to the NFL, is the same as a positive one.
"I'm frustrated and disappointed, as is everybody in this organization, every teammate from top to bottom, and I'm sure our fans are feeling the same way," coach Rex Ryan said. "We all know the kind of player Marcell is, and he's a good person, too, but he's got to make better choices, better decisions, and understand that it affects the whole football team and not just himself."
Dareus initially issued an apology on his Instagram account, and then faced reporters the day after the suspension was announced.
"I really don't have much to say; words don't mean anything now, it's all action," Dareus said. "That's all I'm going to do. I'm going to come back and do the best I can. I'm just apologizing to my team, my family, my kids. I have a nice career and I want to thank God for that, and at the same time I apologize to Terry (Pegula, owner), and Rex, and everyone else. We're family, they said they're going to stand by me."
There is nothing the Bills can do about Dareus. They just gave him a $103 million contract extension last year which included $60 million in guaranteed money.
Further, thanks to unique provisions in the contract, Dareus will not lose any of his future guaranteed money because of this incident, an aspect of the deal that has many in the league scratching their heads and wondering why the Bills would have agreed to that stipulation. Ultimately, the suspension will only cost Dareus about $3.3 million.
Meanwhile, his absence puts the defense in a real bind, especially when you consider the Bills are already playing without their top two draft picks, both of whom were projected as starters - edge rusher Shaq Lawson and inside linebacker Reggie Ragland.
"It's frustration and disappointment," general manager Doug Whaley said. "But this guy is family, Western New Yorkers are big on family values and we will not give up on a family member, especially in a time of need; that's the easy thing to do. We're going to do as much as possible with the support system we have with player engagement and all those other systems we have in place now, but it's a two-way street and they have to hold up their end of the bargain as well."
-- On the same day Dareus' suspension was announced, a Buffalo News report indicated that linebacker Manny Lawson could be facing a one-game suspension for a domestic violence incident.
Lawson vehemently denied being involved, saying, "I saw the tweet, I'm shocked as everyone else is. I don't know what's going on. I reached out to the NFL, I reached out to the organization and we're trying to get to the bottom of this."
Lawson wasn't lying about being involved with anything untoward in the offseason, but the News later reported that he was arrested in February 2014 for disorderly conduct/domestic violence in Scottsdale, Ariz. - and this is the incident that is being investigated by the NFL. Lawson entered a diversionary plea for the misdemeanor charge, and after completing the diversion program, the case was dismissed in November 2014. There was no indication when a decision on the matter would come down from the league.
-- Another player who will be sitting out the first four games because of a substance abuse violation is running back Karlos Williams. Williams was held out of all the offseason practices and the first half of training camp because he was terribly out of shape. Williams, however, passed his physical Tuesday and was on the field for the first time.
"Right now we feel good about where he's at, and he's able to do some good things without those (soft) tissue issues," Ryan said, referring to the fact that the reason Williams was held out was to protect him from pulling muscles while carrying the extra weight. "He's worked hard and we'll see what happens."
Williams thinks he can play Saturday in the Bills' second preseason game against the New York Giants (4 p.m. ET). "Oh yeah, most definitely," he said. "I want to play and that's the goal for me. It's to prove to the coaches that I'm in shape and that I'm ready to play, I know the plays, I can line up, line assignment technique, and I can perform at a high level, the way they want me to."
-- Amid all the negativity in Bills' camp, there are a few players making strong statements to make the team - and one of them is third-year wide receiver Walter Powell.
In the preseason opener, Powell caught four passes for 88 yards, returned three punts for 25 yards and four kickoffs for 78 yards.
"I was just going out there, doing what the coaches taught me and perform to the best of my abilities," Powell said. "They expect me to make plays. And special teams is part of my duties, I'm just doing whatever they're telling me to do, so wherever I can fit in and help, that's what I'm going to do."
Powell is part of an intense competition for backup wide receivers spots along with Marquise Goodwin, Greg Salas, Greg Little, Dezmin Lewis, Jarrett Boykin, and Kain Colter. Goodwin has clearly moved to the top of the group, but Powell - an unheralded late-2015 signing - is nudging his way further up the depth chart.
"I think he's got some juice," Ryan said. "I think he can separate from people, he's got some return skills. So ... a guy that has that kind of athleticism and he's a tough kid, you know I've been patient with him and hopefully this is the year that he breaks through."