By Tim Graham
EJ Manuel probably will need to be cleared for full practice by next Wednesday for the Buffalo Bills to be comfortable enough to start him in the season opener against the New England Patriots.
Bills coach Doug Marrone gave insight into a realistic timetable that would allow Manuel to return from a knee procedure and play Sept. 8. If Manuel can't play, then Jeff Tuel would become the first undrafted rookie to start on opening day in the modern NFL.
"If the doctor said, 'You're not going to get him on that field until Thursday, and then he'll be ready to play on Sunday,' I would be concerned about doing that," Marrone said. "If they said, 'Hey, we can get him on that field on Monday or Wednesday, I would see how he played and make a decision."
Marrone said no date has been targeted for Manuel to return to team practices. Manuel began working out Sunday but isn't throwing yet.
"He's telling me he's ready to go," Marrone said. "But, obviously, he's not."
Even if Manuel gets back in the huddle by next Wednesday, Marrone stressed the rookie still would need to pass an evaluation.
"When he goes out there that first day and practices, we'll see, for lack of a better term, how rusty he may be or if he'll need more" time, Marrone said.
"As soon as we get him to start throwing again, that'll help in the process. But the first day he's out there doing anything, I'll have a good feel for how long it may be."
taggedDoug Marrone | EJ Manuel | Jeff Tuel