Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

EJ Manuel outshines Kevin Kolb in first dual exhibition

By Tim Graham

The Kid's Day crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium loudly booed Kevin Kolb twice. Even after the veteran quarterback warmed up and drove the Buffalo Bills for a pair of field goals before halftime, fans grumbled about a missed end-zone throw.

Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel entered Friday night's game to cheers and then earned some more with another efficient preseason performance against the Minnesota Vikings.

The idea of Manuel not being the Bills' opening-day starter Sept. 8 against the New England Patriots is difficult to fathom barring injury or some sort of implosion over the next couple weeks.

Manuel played the third quarter. He went 10 of 12 for 92 yards and a touchdown before Jeff Tuel came in to start the fourth quarter. Manuel had a 126.4 passer rating. Kolb was 13 of 21 for 111 yards and no touchdowns with an interception for a 55.9 passer rating.

Manuel said he wanted to continue to prove to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett "that I can learn and continue to show what I can do out on the field to my teammates and continue to earn their respect."

Manuel played against Vikings reserves, but his teammates were mostly backups, too, including his offensive linemen. His most frequent target was Chris Hogan, who caught two of three targets for 14 yards.

The longest completion was a 27-yard strike to undrafted rookie Brandon Kaufman. Manuel connected with DeMarco Sampson for a pair of 9-yard gains.

On Manuel's first series, he completed all six of his throws for 44 yards, including an easy 4-yard touchdown toss to Brad Smith in the end zone. Smith played for the first time after missing Sunday's preseason opener with a hamstring injury.

Manuel threw a pair of incomplete passes on his second possession, then completed all four of his attempts for 48 yards on his final series.

"He just comes in there confident," Bills running back C.J. Spiller said. "He's out there, orchestrating the offense the way Coach Hackett wants it to be orchestrated, and he's moving the ball down the field, and that's what you want.

"It's a heated competition. Whoever's named the starter, we'll know that guy earned it."


Brad Smith | C.J. Spiller | Chris Hogan | DeMarco Sampson | EJ Manuel | Kevin Kolb
comments powered by Disqus

About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |