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Kevin Kolb's chances not dead yet; EJ Manuel injury opens door

By Tim Graham

For the past couple weeks, I've made it a point to mention EJ Manuel will be the Buffalo Bills' starting quarterback unless there's an injury or an implosion.

The rookie hasn't imploded.

He has, however, gotten hurt.

Now veteran quarterback Kevin Kolb's outside chance to be opening-day starter -- reminiscent of a particular scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" -- has gotten substantially juicier.

Manuel will miss the rest of the preseason after having a minor knee procedure. Bills coach Doug Marrone revealed in a statement this afternoon Manuel woke up with swelling, and an MRI revealed medical action was prudent.

When or how the injury occurred is unknown. Manuel played only the third quarter Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings. He was sacked once and scrambled once.

But after the game, Marrone said the only injury of note was to wide receiver Kevin Elliott, who was carted off the field with a knee injury. Manuel met with reporters and discussed his performance. He praised the offensive line for protecting him. There was no mention of any injury. He didn't have a perceptible limp.

The injury likely surprised the Bills' organization as much as it did the fans.

The development is bad news for the Bills, but gives Kolb renewed hope to settle in and compete for the job.

Manuel took a mammoth lead in practice reps when Kolb twisted his knee on a rubber mat Aug. 3 and then missed a few days of training camp to attend a family funeral. Kolb dressed for the preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday but didn't play a down.

Kolb's performance Friday night (a 55.9 passer rating) didn't warrant another start Saturday against Washington, but he'll get that opportunity -- and perhaps the fourth exhibition against the Detroit Lions -- because of Manuel's injury.

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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 |