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EJ Manuel starts shakily, but finds traction in Bills scrimmage

86008 Mccoy Sports Bills 09
EJ Manuel started poorly, but the rookie quarterback settled down and ended the Bills' intrasquad scrimmage well. (Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

By Tim Graham

PITTSFORD -- EJ Manuel's first pass was intended for Robert Woods. Leodis McKelvin jumped the route and returned the interception for a touchdown.

That's how tonight's intrasquad scrimmage began for Manuel. But he settled down and finished well, reminding the capacity crowd at Growney Stadium what a rookie quarterback does.

"I'm pleased with a couple things," Bills coach Doug Marrone said, "just his demeanor coming back, obviously, from the start with the interceptions. I'm pleased that he led us on a two-minute drive. He's done that consistent. I think that's difficult to do. We usually have to work a long time on those situations before they get used to it, and our defense is giving him multiple things when it comes down to that phase in two-minute.

"We're very, very pleased with his development. I think that a lot of times at that position you're going to look for a lot of things and expect it to happen overnight, and it's not. And I think he and a lot of the other players, from a team perspective, we've got a lot of work ahead of us."

Manuel and third-stringer Jeff Tuel split the snaps with Kevin Kolb excused from the scrimmage because of a death in the family. Marrone said Kolb intended to play tonight if the quarterback's injured knee would've allowed it.

Manuel appreciated the extra first-team snaps.

"It's great to get that fastball look from a live defense," Manuel said. "I think this is one of the best defenses in the league. I think those guys are going to do a great job this year for us.

"Having reps against those guys, having success and even when you have adversity I think it's good for me."

Unofficial stats tracked by Buffalo News reporter Mark Gaughan had Manuel completing nine of his 17 attempts for 113 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Manuel also ran for a touchdown.

"You can't turn the ball over," Manuel said. "But definitely some good things I thought we did as an offense. The defense played great, but there are things we can go back on the film and watch and learn from."

Tuel unofficially went 10 of 20 for 160 yards and zero touchdowns or interceptions. He feathered some pretty deep balls over Bills defenders, but that could be more of a reflection of the cornerback depth than Tuel's ability.


Doug Marrone | EJ Manuel | Jeff Tuel | Kevin Kolb
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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 |