Bills’ QB of fu­ture needs surgery

Hopes for fast start now on hold

SundayXtra - - SPORTS NFL -

ORCHARD PARK, N. Y. — The Bills quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion — and their ex­pec­ta­tions in get­ting off to a fresh start — are sud­denly on in­def­i­nite hold with rookie quar­ter­back EJ Manuel to miss the rest of the pre­sea­son af­ter hurt­ing his left knee.

In a state­ment re­leased by the team Satur­day, coach Doug Mar­rone said the firstround draft pick would have a “mi­nor knee pro­ce­dure.”

The an­nounce­ment came dur­ing the team’s day off, and fol­low­ing a 20- 16 vic­tory over Min­nesota.

It’s un­clear when or how Manuel was hurt. And there had been no in­di­ca­tion the rookie first- round draft pick had been both­ered by an in­jury fol­low­ing the game.

He took over to start the sec­ond half and opened with a 14- play, 80- yard drive capped by a 4- yard touch­down pass to Brad Smith. He fin­ished 10 of 12 for 92 yards in three se­ries.

“EJ Manuel had some swelling in his left knee this morn­ing and was ex­am­ined by our med­i­cal staff,” Mar­rone said. “An MRI re­vealed that he will need to have a mi­nor knee pro­ce­dure and that has been sched­uled. He will miss the re­main­der of the pre­sea­son and then be re- eval­u­ated at that time.”

The in­jury is a po­ten­tially sig­nif­i­cant set­back for a player re­garded the fu­ture of the fran­chise, and the only quar­ter­back se­lected in the first round in April. He was cho­sen 16th over­all out of Florida State.

Manuel is re­garded the cen­tre­piece of an off- sea­son of­fen­sive over­haul un­der Mar­rone. The rookie head coach has been in the process of in­tro­duc­ing an up- tempo of­fence with an em­pha­sis on speed.

At 6- foot- 4 and 240 pounds, Manuel is a strong- armed quar­ter­back, who has also has mo­bil­ity.

The in­jury comes just as Manuel ap­peared to have taken the edge in an off- sea­son- long quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion with free- agent vet­eran ad­di­tion Kevin Kolb.

Through two pre­sea­son games , Manuel com­pleted 26 of 33 passes for 199 yards and two touch­downs, and ran four times for 29 yards.

Kolb had just re­turned to prac­tice last week af­ter miss­ing eight days with a twisted left knee he hurt while slip­ping on a wet rub­ber mat dur­ing prac­tice on Aug. 3.

In start­ing against Min­nesota on Fri­day, Kolb got off to a slow start. He fin­ished 13 of 21 for 111 yards pass­ing and an in­ter­cep­tion. Wash­ing­ton State rookie Jeff Tuel is the third- string quar­ter­back.

Kolb will now start against Wash­ing­ton on Satur­day.

Kolb signed with the Bills in the off- sea­son af­ter start­ing 21 of 32 ca­reer games played in a six- year ca- reer with Philadel­phia and Arizona. He’s thrown for 28 touch­downs and 25 in­ter­cep­tions while be­ing sacked 77 times in a ca­reer that started as a 2nd round draft pick of the Ea­gles in 2007.

Mar­rone also says backup re­ceiver Kevin El­liott will miss the sea­son af­ter tear­ing a lig­a­ment in his left knee.

— The As­so­ci­ated Press

BILL WIPPERT / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Buf­falo Bills’ quar­ter­back EJ Manuel looks to pass dur­ing the sec­ond half of a pre­sea­son game against the Min­nesota Vik­ings on Fri­day in Orchard Park, N. Y. Manuel will miss the re­main­der of the pre­sea­son with an in­jured knee.

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