The future of the Buffalo Bills will be on display Sunday, as rookie quarterback EJ Manuel will get the start against the New England Patriots. The team announced the news via Twitter.
September 4, 2013. 8:15 a.m. ET. The EJ Manuel era begins in Buffalo.— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) September 4, 2013
Manuel had been recovering from a scoped knee, and it looked like Jeff Tuel was in line for the start with Kevin Kolb placed on injured reserve this preseason, but Manuel has been cleared to play.
Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com passed along a statement from Manuel regarding the recovery of his injury:
Each day my injury has gotten better, and I’ve been doing two or three treatments a day. That’s helped me a lot.
When you play, and if you’re going to play, you can’t think about any injuries that you have, whether it’s something you had a procedure on, or a sprained finger or something like that. You've just got to go out there and play.
Manuel was efficient this preseason, completing 26 of his 33 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing four times for 29 yards. Even if Kolb hadn't been put on injured reserve due to a severe concussion that ended his season, Manuel seemed poised to win the starting job.
The Bills' first-round pick this season (No. 16 overall), Manuel had an excellent senior season for Florida State in 2012, throwing for 3,397 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing 68 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 310 yards and four more touchdowns.
Manuel will face a stiff season-opening test against the Patriots, a team that has beaten Buffalo a staggering 18 times in their last 19 contests. This game could end up being quite the shootout, with both teams relying on no-huddle offenses to keep the defense off balance.
Of course, with Tom Brady on the other side, it's hard to like Manuel's chances much in this contest.
The Bills are also making a bit of history with Manuel and Tuel as their only quarterbacks on the roster, as according to Bill Barnwell of Grantland, it would be the first time since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger that a team started the season with only rookie quarterbacks on the active roster.
Manuel will certainly get a trial by fire in his first start.