The Buffalo Bills may begin the second half of the 2013 season with their third starting quarterback – and possibly their fourth quarterback to take a snap.
The Bills said this week Thad Lewis – a practice-squadders who's started the past three weeks for EJ Manuel – is about 50/50 to play Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. He injured his ribs in Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints, although the X-rays were negative.
If he can't play Sunday, that leaves rookie Jeff Tuel as the starter … unless Matt Flynn is the starter. Flynn took his first practice reps this week after being signed in early October off the waiver wire. Tuel finished the Browns game for Manuel and struggled, going 8-of-20 with an interception.
Coach Doug Marrone said he didn't know what his Plan B will be yet:
"I don’t know right now. I want to see where Thad is first … Obviously, I feel better about Jeff right now because I know Jeff. That’s not to say Matt’s not good enough, I just haven’t seen enough from Matt to really say it’s a competition yet."
The Bills were fortunate with Lewis, who's thrown for at least 200 yards in each of his starts and has been stable enough to keep the Bills in two of those games. But should he have to sit, the Bills would be hard-pressed to get any sort of competence out of either Tuel or Flynn, whom the Raiders cut after one start earlier this season. Even if he doesn't start, though, he'd be the de facto backup should Lewis sit.
"To me, I am in a competition with myself to learn the playbook and get myself as ready as I can," he said. "If you’re not that starting guy, you have to be ready no matter what. I have been in that situation plenty of times before in the past. It doesn’t matter if you are the first guy or the fourth guy, you have to prepare yourself like you are up there playing. You owe it to yourself, your teammates, just in case you get that call, whatever happens. You can’t control it what everyone else does, all I can control is how prepared I am."
Manuel is still a few weeks from playing, so Buffalo will have to keep stopping the gap perhaps until Thanksgiving.
"Challenging is a word we use," Marrone said. "I think that if you look at it anywhere or any way else, you could talk yourself in to making excuses. I think it’s a great challenge. I think pick it up, we’ll do whatever we can if we have to go with either Jeff or Matt and do the best job for them in putting them in to position to win and for the team."
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