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Posted: Friday, 09 August 2013 9:39PM

EJ Manuel to start Bills preseason opener



Pittsford, NY (WGR 550)  -- Since Kevin Kolb slipped on a rubber mat while transferring fields on Saturday, the writing on the wall for the Buffalo Bills' initial preseason game has gone from pencil to permanent ink. Head Coach Doug Marrone announce after Friday's practice that rookie quarterback and first round pick EJ Manuel will get the start when the team takes on the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

"I think we all know," Marrone said Friday night. "Kevin has been gone for a couple of days coming off an injury and we're just working him back in. We're going to dress him for the game, but EJ will start the game."

It's been a definite turn of events for Manuel, who at the time leading up to Kolb's injury was only being initially worked in to the rotation with the first team offense. Since then, it's been all Manuel with the top unit.

The rookie caught wind of the news and is eager for his very first start in the NFL.

"Very excited," Manuel remarked. "We've worked out very hard these past two weeks. I know we're going to be very excited to play a different team, not playing against our own defense and defense is playing against us. So, I'm looking forward to it."

Marrone wouldn't reveal a set plan for how many snaps Manuel or the first team would be getting in the team's first preseason game. The head coach said he subscribes to the theory of getting each player ready to play the whole game just in case an injury occurs.

Manuel and undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel will get time on the field as multi-dimensional quarterbacks. The plan at this point for Kolb will be to likely keep him on the sidelines. Marrone said the veteran will dress, but would only get in if they really need him to play (i.e. injury).

The coach said if Kolb does have to play, they'll keep him out of harm's way and just have him hand the ball off.

It's going to be a bit of a difference for Manuel going from the scrimmage on Monday night to playing in his first ever sixty-minute NFL contest. The rookie is trying to stay even-keeled about it all.

"I think the biggest thing is just to relax. Go play football. Do what you've been coached," Manuel said. "There's no difference -- obviously it picked up a little bit as far as the speed and whatnot -- but that had nothing to do with how I played."

As far as the rest of the team goes, the players that were held out of practice on Friday night will all likely not play. Marrone confirmed both cornerback Leodis McKelvin and wide receiver Brad Smith will not be playing in the game.

It's likely the same case for wide receivers Stevie Jonson and Kevin Elliott, cornerback Justin Rogers, linebacker Keith Pough and tight end Mike Caussin. They also sat out of Friday's session.

With players on the mend from injuries like Kyle Williams and Mario Williams (among others), Marrone said their snap counts will heavily rely on their pre-game prognosis.

The Bills fly out to Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon, and take on the Colts for their first preseason game on Sunday at 1:30 pm.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

All photos courtesy of AP
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