Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- The Buffalo Bills thought they got through Sunday's game in Jacksonville without an injury to their quarterback EJ Manuel. On Monday, they had learned Manuel felt soreness in his left knee and started to treat it, declaring that the rookie should be fine to play against Miami.
On Wednesday, the Bills found out the first-round pick's third knee injury of 2013 would yet again force him to miss a game.
"The situation with EJ is this: he went out there after I spoke to you guys on Monday. There was swelling on the knee. We were not able to get that swelling to respond with the treatments the way we wanted," head coach Doug Marrone started off before dropping a verbal hammer. "Thad Lewis will start, Jeff Tuel will be his backup. And I feel very confident that EJ Manuel will start in our final game of the season versus New England."
Manuel will miss his fifth game of 2013 due to a knee injury, frustrating the rookie quarterback that is going through an unwanted case of déjà vu.
"Yeah, it is. I mean, you know, we just wanted to continue to build on what we did last week," the rookie said. "Obviously I didn't get a chance to play the Dolphins the first go round. I wanted to play them the second time, but you know, coach is going to make the right decisions for the team to help us win."
Fortunately for the Bills, the injury is considered to be a minor one that will not require a procedure after the season to repair it. In the short-term, however, the Bills lose yet another week of the evaluation period of their young quarterback.
While Manuel can still do some things, Marrone outlined the decision to shut him down for the week.
"We went out there today. We saw him where he's able to throw the ball in the pocket," he said. "But the stability in that knee with the swelling, he does not have the escapability, or the ability to run after the fake or zone-read, or those type of things that we feel is important for us to win."
This is the second time Manuel has injured his left knee, after having a minor procedure on it during the preseason. Combine those two with an injury to his right knee that forced him to miss four regular season games, the rookie is starting to get the "injury prone" label from some fans.
Marrone is staunchly against that narrative, knowing why it's said but declaring that it doesn't hold any weight.
"People are going to think that and write that. I totally understand that," he remarked. "He's not injury prone. His history has shown that he's never been hurt. He's gotten hurt here, yes. He re-injured that left knee he hurt in training camp. When he has been injured, he has done everything he could to come back faster than what was expected, faster than what was possible. I think in this league what is difficult for any player is to be able to keep coming back, keep coming back, keep coming back and never really fully recover, especially the younger you are."
Manuel doesn't want to be a part of that label either.
"I mean, as a football player, you're tough," he said. "I mean, I've been playing this game 20-however-many-years and never really had recurring injuries, especially with my knees and things like that, so you obviously don't want to get the tag of being injury prone, or the worst word 'soft.'"
As the Bills prepare for their upcoming game with Miami, they'll do it with Thad Lewis at the helm. Lewis will be making his fourth start of the season and his second start against the Dolphins. Lewis helped engineer one of Buffalo's five wins during the October win in Miami.
Lewis' record as a starter with the Bills is 1-2, completing 60.2-percent of his passes for 652 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Lewis was also sacked 13 times and fumbled the ball six times, losing three of them.
As for Manuel, he won't even be the team's emergency quarterback. Marrone said if they were to do that, it would send the wrong message. The coach is certain, however, that Manuel will be ready for the team's regular season finale in New England.