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Eric Wood on EJ Manuel's TD drive: 'What we needed to do'

By Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- There are all sorts of ways to rationalize EJ Manuel's performance today in Lucas Oil Stadium.

He looked pedestrian early. But he was nervous in his NFL debut.

He looked sharp on his final drive. But he operated from behind his starting offensive line and faced the Indianapolis Colts' third-string defense.

He drove the Bills 92 yards for a go-ahead touchdown before halftime. But it's merely the preseason.

So I asked veteran Bills center Eric Wood: What should we make of Manuel's performance in a 44-20 victory over the Colts?

"It's a great way to set the tone," Wood said. "You never want to come out and lay an egg in the preseason. It doesn't breed any confidence.

"And from a team that hasn't won a whole lot in the past few years, coming out and playing like this in the preseason is what we needed to do."

Manuel began by completing seven of his 12 attempts for 39 yards on his first six series. He was officially tagged with a fumble on a botched handoff to C.J. Spiller.

In the two-minute drill, which Wood pointed out isn't much different than the Bills' up-tempo base offense, Manuel completed all nine of his passes for 68 yards and his longest play of the afternoon, a 17-yard scoring strike up the left hash marks to tight end Dorin Dickerson.

"It felt good," Wood said. "It felt pretty natural, considering a lot of what we do is similar to two-minute.

"But EJ's doing a great job of being comfortable out there. While we're going fast, he's not rushed, being precise with his calls that he needs to make and just executing the offense."


Dorin Dickerson | EJ Manuel | Eric Wood
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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 |