By Jay Skurski
EJ Manuel sprained the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee Thursday against the Cleveland Browns. The injury will keep him out "a few weeks," according to coach Doug Marrone.
As for who will replace Manuel, Marrone indicated the team will leave no stone unturned in their search.
"We will be looking to bring in another quarterback," Marrone said. "We're in the process of that right now, you know, going through the names, going through the tape."
Marrone indicated he planned to join Bills General Manager Doug Whaley in that search as soon as his press conference was finished this afternoon.
That marks a clear shift in the Bills' assessment of the quarterback position.
When Manuel was hurt in the preseason and his status for the first game of the season was in question, Marrone announced well in advance that the team was preparing to start undrafted rookie free agent Jeff Tuel against New England.
The coach made no such declarations today about Tuel heading into the Bills' Week Six game against Cincinnati.
"No, that's not a stretch," Marrone said on whether a free-agent signee could step into the starting lineup on such short notice. "I think it all depends on who it is, and what we get, and what their background is in their system. I would say it’s possible in what we do, only because we’re going through the process right now. I think that by the end of the weekend, I’ll have a lot better feel of what we’re trying to accomplish, seeing who we bring in."
Marrone indicated that the team will look outside the organization for help at quarterback -- and does not currently plan to promote Thad Lewis from the practice squad.
Tuel's performance against the Browns in place of Manuel clearly has left the Bills in a bind. He went 8 of 20 for just 80 yards and threw the game-deciding pick-six to Browns safety T.J. Ward.
"You know, Jeff’s working extremely hard, doing everything he possibly can do, and he’s betting better and better each week. We like him, we really do. But we just want to make sure that we’re doing our due process making sure that, is there someone else out there that’s available to help us. Is there someone out there who’s better?" Marrone said. "That’s what we do with all the pieces of the puzzle, because that’s our responsibility. Not only for the people that are right here, but for the fans and the organization. So we’re just going through that process. ... If there’s someone out there that’s not, or we don’t think is better, you know, then we’ll play with Jeff or bring up Thaddeus."
As for Manuel, Marrone said his injury will not require surgery and that he is expected to return this season. The coach did not put a more specific timetable on the injury other than to say it will be a "few weeks."
Marrone said the timetable for Manuel's return is hard to predict, because players who have had the injury --- referencing Bills running back Fred Jackson and linebacker Arthur Moats -- needed a different amount of time to recover.
"It’s early on now, you know, to really give you an exact timeframe or even a window," Marrone said, referring to Manuel. "What we need right now is for it to calm down, see where he’s at probably in a week, see how it’s progressing ... and then get it down into a little bit more of a window."
taggedDoug Marrone | EJ Manuel | Jeff Tuel | Thad Lewis