EJ Manuel vs. Kevin Kolb: Latest Updates on Buffalo Bills QB Battle
Doug Marrone and the Buffalo Bills have had a rough preseason when it comes to the quarterback position. After starting the season with a battle between EJ Manuel and Kevin Kolb for the job, injuries to both have forced the team to adjust, signing Matt Leinart and are currently on track to start Jeff Tuel Week 1 vs. New England.
However, it was reported on Tuesday that Manuel is expected to start in Week 1.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Sept. 3
From FOX Sports' Peter Schrager:
Breaking: Sources tell me E.J. Manuel is "healthy and ready to go for Week 1," and Doug Marrone is expected to name Week 1 starter tomorrow.— P. Schrager (@PSchrags) September 4, 2013
UPDATE: Monday, Aug. 26
From the Buffalo Bills:
Marrone: Plan now is for QB Jeff Tuel will start week 1 against the New England Patriots.— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) August 26, 2013
UPDATE: Saturday, Aug. 24
Bills.com reporter Chris Brown states that the Bills will definitely seek QB help:
“That’s correct and we’ll be looking at bringing quarterbacks in,” said Marrone.
Media reports were already circulating possible names with FOX Sports 1’s Mike Garafolo and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting that free agent veteran Matt Leinart would work out on Sunday for Buffalo. Garafolo also reported that John Beck would be coming in for a workout.
Marrone also gave indication that Brad Smith would help out at quarterback as he was apparently an emergency quarterback plan all along.
UPDATE: Saturday, Aug. 24
From ESPN's Adam Schefter:
In addition to Matt Leinart, Bills also working out former Redskins QB John Beck. Buffalo needs another arm. Badly.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 25, 2013
UPDATE: Saturday, Aug. 24
From The Washington Post's Mark Maske:
Bills say Kevin Kolb has concussion-like symptoms and is out of the game.— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) August 24, 2013
UPDATE: Saturday, Aug. 17
From the Buffalo Bills on Twitter:
The team later expanded on the nature of the injury on the official website.
EJ Manuel had some swelling in his left knee this morning and was examined by our medical staff. An MRI revealed that he will need to have a minor knee procedure and that has been scheduled. He will miss the remainder of the preseason and then be re-evaluated at that time. Kevin Kolb will be our starting quarterback for this weekend’s game at Washington.
If Friday night's preseason game is any indication, a 20-16 win over the Minnesota Vikings, things look great for Manuel. He threw for 92 yards on 10-of-12 passing, adding one touchdown without an interception.
Kolb signed a two-year, $6.1 million deal with the Bills this offseason after two injury-marred seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He sported a quarterback rating of 86.1 in his final season but only played in six games due to injuries. The 28-year-old has never played more than nine games in any of his six NFL seasons.
He spent four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before joining the Cardinals.
After signing Kolb, Marrone and Co. decided to use the No. 16 selection in the draft on Manuel. He was the only quarterback taken in the first round, and his selection put Kolb's starting job in jeopardy.
Through two games in the preseason, the general consensus would appear to favor Manuel as the team's signal-caller. The fans appear ready to cast their lot with the rookie as well:
Lot of boos for Kevin Kolb in Buffalo. He's been inaccurate a handful of times.— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) August 16, 2013
However, Marrone wasn't quite ready to proclaim Manuel as the starter quite yet, comparing Kolb's debut against the Vikings to Manuel's first outing against the Indianapolis Colts the week prior, per the Buffalo Bills' website.
I think he probably got off to the same start as EJ got in to last game. I think the goal for that and I think it’s tough when you come in to those games and you’re first time you come in to it you want to get in that rhythm. If you don’t, once you get in to it you have to find a way to get the quarterback in to it. We did later on and he was able to move us down the field.
While Marrone might not want to rush to conclusions, the numbers are certainly on Manuel's side early. As Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated notes, Manuel has been much quicker when it comes to getting plays off as fast as possible. That could be an important factor for Marrone, who is known for pushing the tempo offensively.
Interesting stat from the Buffalo broadcast: 76 percent of EJ Manuel's plays snapped w/ 23-plus seconds on play clock. Kolb at 12 percent.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) August 17, 2013
Through two games, Manuel is 26-of-33 for 199 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Kolb, meanwhile, is 13-of-21 for 111 yards with no touchdowns in his one game.
With just two more preseason games left for Marrone to make his decision, this is a position battle to keep an eye on. Stay tuned for the latest updates as the Bills continue their preparations for the regular season.
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