Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- When the Buffalo Bills take on the New England Patriots on Sunday, September 8, it's still unknown as to who will be the starting quarterback. Head Coach Doug Marrone has come out and said that they're planning on undrafted free agent rookie Jeff Tuel to start the game, but also still admits that there's a chance first-round pick EJ Manuel could play.
It's a question that will be answered by the progress EJ Manuel's knee makes over the course of the next week-and-a-half, and nothing else. Some wonder if Marrone would be hesitant in rushing Manuel back to the field even if he's ready by the start of the week of practice.
On Tuesday, the head coach revealed his line of thinking going into any decision.
"I think there's two things you look at. 'A,' the number of time he needs to go and play, and then 'B,' the number of days for preparation," Marrone started. "So I think that, to give an example, if we were playing New England -- obviously we are the first week -- and the doctors said you're not gonna get him on the field until Thursday and then he'll be ready to play on Sunday, I would be concerned about doing that."
If he's back before Thursday though, it could lead to a different outcome.
"If they said hey, we can get him on that field on Monday or Wednesday, I would see how he played and then make a decision," he continued. "That's how I feel about that situation."
The way practice is lined up, the Bills will be on the field on both Sunday and Monday for practice, then get Tuesday off. They'll continue their preparations on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before finally kicking off against the Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday.
If it is next Monday or Wednesday, how quickly Manuel can pick things up will be paramount to Marrone's ultimate decision.
"I think I'll know a lot from that right on the first day he comes back, meaning that when he goes out there on his first day and he practices, we'll see how -- for the lack of a better term -- rusty it may be that he may need more," the coach said. "He's started the physical work, which is good. As soon as we can get out there and then get him to start throwing again, that'll help in the process."
Now eight days removed from his minor knee procedure, Marrone said that Manuel has continued to do footwork drills and other exercises with team trainers. He even says that the young quarterback is going 100 miles an hour to try and get back in a timely manner.
"He's coming back and he's doing everything he can. He's progressing," the coach said. "You talk to the kid, you would think he's starting on Thursday," Marrone said.
The Bills are just hoping the doctor's think Manuel will be able to play next Sunday.