What's the Buffalo Bills' Next Move with EJ Manuel Done for the Preseason?
The Buffalo Bills' plan at quarterback had just begun to unfold. Now, in the short-term, those plans are on hold.
With quarterback EJ Manuel starting the first preseason game, and Kevin Kolb starting the second, the rotation had set up perfectly for Manuel to get the start in the all-important third preseason game, which is often regarded as a dress rehearsal for the regular season.
However, the Bills announced Saturday that he would not start that game, or any other game, for the remainder of the preseason after suffering a knee injury.
#Bills Doug Marrone: EJ Manuel had swelling in left knee this morning. MRI revealed need for minor knee procedure that has been scheduled.— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) August 17, 2013
Kolb didn't play against the Colts, but started on Friday against the Vikings; he led a pair of drives that ended in field goals, but he did not show the accuracy or grasp of the offense that Manuel has shown in the first two games.
Manuel's numbers to this point have been solid, and he even outperformed Kolb in the second game, but the Bills probably would have liked to see more of him in the preseason; to this point, he has just attempted passes that traveled 20 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage.
Now, however, the team doesn't have much of a choice. In fact, depending on how long he's injured, the Bills may have a difficult decision on their hands for Week 1: roll with a healthy Kolb or an injured EJ?
If Kolb couldn't beat out John Skelton for the Cardinals job, and Ryan Lindley was deemed better than the both of them, it's only logical to wonder if undrafted free-agent quarterback Jeff Tuel would be a better option than Kolb. Tuel's playing time has come against second- and third-team defenses, but he has looked comfortable running the offense and has the requisite quick release for the West Coast offense the Bills run.
Kolb has been the one competing for the starting job with Manuel, though, so it's more logical to say that the veteran will get the nod until Manuel is ready to go. If that's the case, the Bills can only hope Manuel is ready as soon as possible.
Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.com. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or via team news releases.
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