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Bills Beat Blog

By Joe Buscaglia
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Orton, Bills believe backup will be up to speed for Week 1

Just moments before the initial 53-man roster was due into the National Football League offices, the Buffalo Bills announced the signing of quarterback Kyle Orton. The move paved the way for the Bills to release second-year quarterback Jeff Tuel and to entrust Orton with all the responsibilities of being EJ Manuel’s backup.

The big question, though, is will he be ready to step in at a moment’s notice? Both he and Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone seem to think so.

“This week, and I think I'll be ready to go. I’ve really put a lot of work in the last 48-72 hours mentally,” Orton said. “Physically it went really good today and I'll be ready to go on Sunday.”

“I think you'd be surprised of what he can do, and I think we'll just go work during the week and just see how much he feels comfortable with handling,” Marrone remarked. “Probably more than what most people think because of his experience.”

It’s not the first rodeo for Orton in having to get ready in a short amount of time. He was waived by the Denver Broncos in the second half of the 2011 season, only to be claimed by the Kansas City Chiefs on November 24.

Less than a month later — December 18, 2011 to be exact — Orton made his first start for the Chiefs.

The Bills are certainly hoping Orton won’t have to step into action nearly that quickly, given the belief that they’ve placed in Manuel, their second-year starter. It does give them the comfortability that if Manuel does get injured, they now have a competent backup with plenty of starting experience on their roster.

Orton has a total of 70 starts in the NFL, a whopping 64 more than the three men that vied for the backup job behind Manuel all summer long. With Tuel, Thad Lewis and Dennis Dixon now off the active roster, it’s all on the former Bears, Broncos and Chiefs starter to take over in case of injury or otherwise.

“Kyle is much better for us,” Marrone said of his current situation at backup quarterback. “Experienced veteran. He was what we were looking for and we were fortunate enough to get him.”

Given his reported salary — $5 million for 2014 according to’s Ian Rapoport — some will, and have, jumped to the conclusion that the signing puts Manuel on alert in case he struggles. While it’s on the minds of some, it’s not being considered by one of the newest Bills.

“My role on the team is a backup and to be ready to play whenever I need to be, but, probably job number one is to help EJ, and that's what I plan to do,” Orton said.

The Bills have three more days of practice for the week and will then take on the Chicago Bears for the first game of the regular season on Sunday.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

**Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

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People : Dennis DixonDoug MarroneIan RapoportJeff TuelKyle OrtonThad Lewis

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