Bills' backup QB battle is on
For the second straight year in Pittsford, New York, the Buffalo Bills have a quarterback competition on their hands. No, not the most obvious one. EJ Manuel is still firmly the top man on the depth chart and will enter the 2014 season as the starter.
The competition lies within the backup role, meaning Thad Lewis has a battle on his hands if he wants to keep his job as the next man in this season. Second-year quarterback Jeff Tuel, who made one start during the 2013 season, split time with the second offense on Tuesday which raised some eyebrows.
Head coach Doug Marrone confirmed the suspicions to the surrounding media.
"We have a battle for the second-team quarterback," he said bluntly. "We're trying to find out who it is, Jeff did a nice job in OTAs and he's earned himself some more reps."
Tuel has the prototypical frame in comparison to Lewis, and the team has always said they believe in him as a long-term option as a backup quarterback. Given the new opportunities so short into his second training camp, Tuel isn't taking anything for granted and is making sure to do all the little things.
"I feel like I've progressed tremendously in the mental aspect of the offense, and just learning protection and plays and where to go with the ball when and stuff like that," he said. "That's just what I need to continue to do. I'm just going to play the best I can every day and wherever it takes me is just where it takes me."
Any time Tuel's name was brought up and the Bills were asked what they would like to see from him, some variation of the words 'he needs to get stronger,' was used. The second-year quarterback took it to heart, nailed down a program with the training staff to get leaner in the offseason and has come back to the Bills with a new physique.
"I feel a lot stronger and a lot better," Tuel said. "I'm lighter on my feet and stuff. I definitely took that upon myself this offseason and took it pretty serious."
With Marrone declaring that there is indeed a competition to be Manuel's backup, the expectation is that both Tuel and Lewis will continue to split time with the second offense for the next few practices at least. The two will get back on the field on Wednesday morning to continue their attempts in impressing the coaching staff.
Practice resumes at 8 am at St. John Fisher College and is once again open to the general public.
**Photo courtesy of the AP