One day after the Buffalo Bills announced that Jeff Tuel would be the starting quarterback for week one, the Buffalo Bills announced that there is still a chance that rookie quarterback EJ Manuel could make the start, but there is a set of tests that head coach Doug Marrone has put in front of Manuel.
“I think I’ll know a lot from that right on the first day when he comes back,” Marrone said. “Meaning that when he goes out there that first day and he practices we’ll see how, for lack of a better term, how rusty he may be and if he made need more (time).”
Marrone feels he will be able to tell almost instantly whether Manuel will be able to perform on the field or if Tuel is the right man for week one against the Patriots.
While Manuel is off the field, the team has taken every advantage to teach him off the field with reads and situational materials.
“That’s why one of the ways we’re training him right now mentally is getting him as much work as possible,” said Marrone. “Now he’s started the physical work, which is good so as soon as we can get out there and get him to start throwing again. That’ll help in the process, but the first day he’s out there doing anything I’ll have a good feel for how long it may be.”
While there is no target date for Manuel to start with reps in practice again, the mentality is that he will be ready sooner rather than later.
“It [full practice] hasn’t been scheduled yet because we’re still pushing. Truthfully we’re still pushing,” Marrone said. “Everyone heals a little bit differently. Right now he’s telling me he’s ready to go, but obviously he’s not. But that’s the mentality of EJ. So I’m excited about it. I’ve watched him do footwork drills in cones and watched him ride a bike, and just talking to him you’d think he’s starting on Thursday.”
For those fans worried that rushing Manuel back will mean lack of preparation, Marrone has a methodical approach.
“I think there are two things that you’d look at, A, the number of times he needs to go and play and then, B, the number of days of preparation,” he said. “To give an example, if we were playing New England and we are the first week, and the doctor said, ‘You’re not going to get him until Thursday, but he’ll be ready to go on Sunday,’ I would be concerned about doing that. If they said, ‘We can get him on the field Monday or Wednesday,’ I would see how he played and then make a decision. That’s how I feel about that situation.”
It may be a week or two before a timetable can be set on Manuel. For now, Tuel is considered the week one starter and will prepare to be the guy until Manuel is 100%.
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