PITTSFORD, N.Y. – The Buffalo Bills’ big man, Marcell Dareus, is ready to shed his heavy heart.

The defensive tackle is looking ahead to the season with the intention of returning his focus back to playing football. It’s a conscious approach Dareus is taking after being left an emotional wreck last year following the shooting death of his youngest brother.

“To me, last year never happened,” he said. “I done came to the realization that my little brother is gone. I’ve coped with that. I’ve grieved over it. I got all of it out and I’m OK now.”

Difficult as it might be, Dareus is ready to move on after his sibling, Simeon Gilmore, was among three people killed during a burglary in a suburb of Birmingham, Ala. It occurred the same weekend Dareus was preparing to open the season.

Dareus left the team to mourn with his family. And it was clear upon his return that he had been left drained by the experience.

Rather than being someone ready to show off his dance moves in the locker room, Dareus mostly avoided eye contact with reporters. And he certainly wasn’t the aggressive dual-purpose pass-rushing/run-stuffing wrecking ball of a player Buffalo hoped for.

“It hit me real low. And it took a lot out of me,” Dareus said. “That’s the first time I went through my season where I didn’t know why. I didn’t know what was going on and why things were happening to me the way they were.”

This season becomes a fresh start in Dareus’ pursuit to begin realizing the potential the Bills saw in selecting the former Alabama star with the third pick in the 2011 draft.

“I have a lot to prove to myself,” he said. “Of course, I’ve had a couple of bumps and bruises in the road. But at the same time, I’ve overcome them. I’m just focusing in on this year, getting better, and being the best player that I can be.”

The sky is still regarded to be the limit for Dareus, but he’s yet to scratch that surface.

49ERS: Free-agent cornerback Eric Wright signed a one-year contract and was placed on the non-football injury/illness list. San Francisco released cornerback Lowell Rose to clear room on the roster.

Wright had been traded to the reigning NFC champions last month for a conditional draft pick in 2014, but he failed his physical, nullifying the deal. Tampa Bay then released Wright.

CARDINALS: Arizona obtained defensive end Cordian Hagans off waivers from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Hagans, 6-foot-4 and 299 pounds, is a rookie free agent from Louisiana-Lafayette. He had 41 tackles, five sacks and two fumble recoveries in his senior season for the Ragin’ Cajuns.

FALCONS: The organizer of a petition that sought to block public financing for a new Atlanta Falcons stadium said the effort has failed to gather enough signatures.

William Perry of Common Cause Georgia said the group knew it was a longshot to gather 35,000 signatures in 60 days to qualify for the November ballot, but it was worth the effort.

State and city officials have signed off on the $1 billion stadium project that includes $200 million in public bonds.

JAGUARS: Blaine Gabbert will start as quarterback against the Miami Dolphins on Friday, but Coach Gus Bradley said he plans to give Chad Henne repetitions behind the first-team offensive line.

Bradley also said running back Maurice Jones-Drew won’t play in the preseason opener while he recovers from foot surgery. Eight others, including four starters, will be held out because of injuries.

COLTS: Tight end Dwayne Allen and offensive lineman Justin Anderson both sat out Indianapolis’ practice.

Allen, who led all rookie tight ends with 45 catches last season, is out with a foot injury that was still being evaluated.

But Anderson’s injury appears to be more severe. Coach Chuck Pagano said he had a “significant” pectoral muscle injury and may need season-ending surgery.

Both were Colts draft picks in 2012.

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