The quarterback competition that started when the Bills drafted EJ Manuel in the first round ended as a war of attrition. Kevin Kolb suffered a knee injury before preseason started that forced him out of the first two games and then suffered a season-ending concussion in the third game. Manuel suffered a knee injury in the second game that kept him out of the last two games. For a week or so, it looked like undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel was going to start Week One against the New England Patriots. Granted, there is still that possibility, but it is not as likely as it was two days ago.
On Sunday afternoon, EJ Manuel made his return to the practice field. He was not full go, being held of team drills, but ran through all the quarterback drills. He is expected to be full go for Monday’s practice. The decision to carry only two quarterbacks on the active roster speaks to the coaching staff’s confidence in Manuel’s health. Putting Thaddeus Lewis on the practice squad is some insurance, but it would likely take a serious setback for Manuel to not start Week One. After all, they still have two open roster spots and would not have to cut anyone to promote him. The preference however is for only two quarterbacks on the roster.
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) September 1, 2013
This news comes as a huge relief for Bills fans. After seeing Kolb look shaky, then get injured, followed by the disastrous week-long tryout for former first round pick Matt Leinart, most fans had already surrendered to doom and gloom. Getting the athletically-gifted Manuel back in time for the Patriots game brings a little hope back to the fanbase.
There is the argument for not letting Manuel play if he is not 100%, and it is certainly valid. The team should not risk their hopeful franchise quarterback if his knee is not ready. However, with the various reports about how Manuel has done with his rehabilitation, it appears that the coaching staff is very confident he is ready. This week of practice will be very telling, but so far all signs point towards the EJ Manuel era starting Sunday the 8th against the New England Patriots.