Vikings' Gain Not Helping Buffalo's Pain

The loss of nose tackle Pat Williams is having negative ramifications for the Buffalo Bills, on and off the field. Statistically, their run defense has fallen off dramatically, and the change in personnel and duties is causing a big rift between Sam Adams and coach Mike Mularkey, who played for the Vikings from 1983-88. Plus, get other news and notes on former Vikings around the league.

Defensive tackle Sam Adams' already shaky relationship with coach Mike Mularkey has taken a turn for the worst.

Whether the three-time Pro Bowler can get out of Mularkey's doghouse and back on the field during the season's final five games to prove he can still be a dominant run stuffer — and save his job in Buffalo — remains to be seen.

Adams, who has been bothered by shoulder, ankle and knee problems this season, has been on a four-week downward spiral.

He was benched during the second half of a close loss at New England, was scratched from a home game against Kansas City with a swollen knee, then sprained an ankle against San Diego and left the game early.

On Sunday, he suffered a bruised ego.

Although he practiced all last week and told Mularkey he was healthy enough to play against the Carolina Panthers at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Mularkey told Adams not to bother. He was going with younger players, and Adams was put on the game's inactive list.

That set off a bizarre chain of events.

Rather than watch from the sidelines, Adams got in his car and left the stadium, presumably to watch the game on TV from home. After his team lost 13-9, struggling to stop the run yet again, Mularkey had little to say about Adams other than he was scratched for medical reasons.

But Adams' agent had plenty to say about Mularkey, claiming the reason his client didn't play against Carolina was personal, not medical.

"This guy doesn't like Sam Adams, and that's fine," Angelo Wright told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "You don't have to like him to play him. Sam wants to play. He likes Buffalo. But you got a coach there who doesn't like him personally, and he's doing everything he can to make it look like it's the player. He's making Sam the distraction."

Wright said Adams' somewhat lax practice habits have irked Mularkey, but that Adams, a member of Super Bowl teams in Baltimore and Oakland and who anchored Buffalo's rise to a dominant defense the past two seasons when paired with Pat Williams (now with Minnesota), has always been a team player.

"He is not going to bury my client because you have personal issues with him," Wright said of Mularkey. "He is what he is. Sam never has been known to be a great practice player, but he plays on Sunday. You don't pay him to practice, you pay him to play."

Mularkey denied Wright's claim that he has personal issues with Adams.

"No. That's his agent and I don't deal with him," said Mularkey, adding that his decision not to play Adams on Sunday was "strictly medical."

Mularkey said he had no problem with Adams not watching the game from the sideline and said he'd allow any player not active that choice.

"He said he was disappointed (being inactive) and he said he'd feel better if he wasn't on the sideline," Mularkey said. "I said, ‘If you feel like that's going to be best for our team, which all these decisions are, then I'm OK with that.'"

Will Adams play Sunday at Miami, where the Bills will face a duo running threat in Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown? Mularkey would not commit to the three-time Pro Bowler, 32, who has 10 tackles and one sack this season.

"We'll make that decision by 11 o'clock on Sunday. But I'm not saying who is and who isn't right now. I think that's a competitive edge," Mularkey said.

Wright said Adams, who entered the season with 424 tackles, 39 sacks and 36 batted passes in his career, along with three interceptions, could still be a dominant player if Buffalo used him correctly.

Since losing Williams in free agency, the Bills have used a rotation of young players, none who come close to Williams' skill. The Bills have played hard but have fallen from No. 7 against the run to 31st, giving up around 50 more yards per game.

Adams, who likes to penetrate and attack, has been asked to tie up blockers. And it's taken a toll.

"The scheme's getting the crap beat out of him," Wright said. "He's playing through it. But to say the other guys are better than a less-than-healthy Sam Adams ... Well, teams game plan for Sam Adams they don't game plan for the other guys. Teams are gleeful when they don't have to face Sam Adams. They can play ball control and force the Bills to beat them offensively."

Adams has one year left on his contract, but Wright is sure to address his future in Buffalo as soon as the year is through. Wright might ask for a trade or that his client be released if Mularkey has no plans for him.

"Smart coaches manage personalities," Wright said. "Less successful coaches don't get it right. Rarely do you see a coach create a distraction with a player like this. It's perplexing. If you feel you can go, you go. To be in a playoff hunt and not play the guy? I've been around a long time, and I've never seen that."

NEW YORK: Punter Jeff Feagles appeared in his 283rd consecutive game, breaking the NFL record held by Minnesota's Jim Marshall. Feagles punted seven times for a 37.3 average (34.4 net).

MIAMI: In the span of one week, the Dolphins have gone from being written off for dead to having their outside chance of making the playoffs renewed following a 33-21 victory over Oakland. The decision to move offensive coordinator Scott Linehan from the coaches' box to the sideline paid dividends. Linehan, who was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings from 2002-04, had better communication with the players and was able to more quickly get former Vikings QB Gus Frerotte the play calls. The Dolphins also were wise to scale back their offensive game plan after losing the past three contests.

OAKLAND: In that game against Miami, former Vikings and current Raider Randy Moss was a non-factor, catching three passes for 28 yards.


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