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Posted: Monday, 23 December 2013 2:56PM

Manuel not a lock to start for Bills on Sunday



Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550)  -- On Wednesday, December 18, Buffalo Bills head coach Doug Marrone announced that the team would be without rookie quarterback EJ Manuel against the Miami Dolphins, but expressed supreme confidence in having him back for Week 17. A knee injury kept Manuel out of his fifth contest in 2013, but Marrone stayed upbeat.

"In other words I feel 110 percent confident that he’ll be ready for New England and play in New England."

Not even a week later, Marrone didn't portray the same confidence as he did in a potential return for the Bills' final game of the regular season. While he didn't come right out and say definitively that Manuel wouldn't play, he didn't uphold the same "110-percent" line of thinking, either.

When first asked about Manuel's status for Sunday's game in New England, the coach merely said that they're looking forward to seeing him on the field Tuesday to see "how he feels."

Although not a complete reversal from his previous statements, Marrone still backed off a bit.

"I mean, I'm the coach. When people ask me, that's usually how I go about it with players," he replied when asked if he was still 110-percent confident in Manuel playing this weekend. "I think it's a process, and we'll get him out there tomorrow and take a peek at him."

With a certain amount of gray area to his initial answers on Monday, the head coach was then posed with the question of whether or not there was a chance that Manuel's injury would prevent him from playing against the Patriots.

"I think there's always a chance. There's a chance Marquise Goodwin can't play, there's a chance that Aaron Williams might not be able to play," he said, gently side-stepping from the original question. "There's a chance that someone could come in here tomorrow and say 'I don't feel well.' I think it's very difficult."

Manuel's knee injury is his third of the season that part of his body.

Outside of the quarterback, the Bills are dealing with only two other known injuries at this point. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin re-injured his knee and was said to be looking better today. Buffalo will try to get him on the field on Tuesday and take it from there.

Safety Aaron Williams sat out of the team's Week 16 win over Miami with an injury to his ribs. Marrone said the trainers were still evaluating Williams.

The likelihood for wide receiver Stevie Johnson to play on Sunday appears to be at a very low percentage. The funeral for his mother is on Friday, December 27 in California, just two days ahead of the team's game in New England. Marrone said there has been some correspondence with Johnson, but said it's difficult in terms of the wideout's availability for Sunday.

The Bills hit the practice field on Tuesday before getting Wednesday off for Christmas Day.

Twitter: @JoeBuscaglia

All photos courtesy of AP
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