Bills rookie QB Manuel to start against Patriots

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It turns out Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel will be ready to open the season against the New England Patriots, after all.

Following weeks of attempting to address an injury-depleted quarterback position, coach Doug Marrone announced Wednesday that Manuel will start Sunday. Marrone made the announcement in a one-sentence release issued by the team before practice.

Manuel’s status had been in question after he had what the team called a “minor procedure” on his left knee on Aug. 18. The first-round draft pick was injured two days earlier while scrambling in a 20-16 preseason win over Minnesota.

Marrone had held out hope that Manuel would recover in time to start the season.

Manuel spent last week working out on his own, including throwing passes on the field at Ralph Wilson Stadium before the Bills preseason finale against Detroit on Aug. 29.

Manuel returned to practice on Sunday, when he was limited to working in individual drills. He then practiced fully on Monday.

The Bills put their future in Manuel after selecting him with the 16th pick in the NFL draft. The Florida State product was the first and only quarterback taken in the first round.

Had Manuel not been ready, the Bills would have had no choice but to have Jeff Tuel start on Sunday. Tuel is an undrafted rookie out of Washington State.

Manuel’s injury complicated the Bills plans at quarterback. He was supposed to have been competing with veteran free-agent addition Kevin Kolb for the starting job.

That competition ended when Kolb sustained a season-ending concussion in a 30-7 preseason loss at Washington on Aug. 24. Kolb has since been placed on injured reserve.

The Bills spent last week scrambling to add quarterbacks by signing free-agent veteran Matt Leinart and acquiring Thaddeus Lewis in a trade with Detroit.

Leinart was cut Friday, a day after he struggled in a preseason loss to the Lions. Lewis was also cut, but has since been signed to Buffalo’s practice squad.

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