Tuel could start season opener for Bills

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore will miss six to eight weeks with a broken left wrist.

Coach Doug Marrone provided the update Monday, two days after Gilmore was hurt in a 30-7 preseason loss to Washington. Gilmore was drafted ninth overall out of South Carolina. And he’s coming off a solid rookie season, during which he took over the responsibility as the Bills’ top cornerback.

Gilmore’s injury further depletes a cornerback position that already lacks experienced depth behind sixth-year player Leodis McKelvin.

As for quarterback, Marrone added he’s planning to have third-stringer Jeff Tuel start in the Bills’ opener against New England on Sept. 8.

Veteran Kevin Kolb is out indefinitely after sustaining a concussion against Washington. And rookie EJ Manuel is not expected to be ready after hurting his left knee.

Matt Leinart did make his debut in practice, a day after the 2006 first-round pick signed with Buffalo in free agency. But Marrone said his approach to the opener is to have Tuel start, because he’s the most familiar with the players and the game plan.

Tuel played at Washington State and was signed by Buffalo a week after the draft.

Should Tuel start against New England, he would be the first undrafted rookie directly out of college to start in Week 1 for any team since the NFL merger in 1970, according to STATS LLC. Jim Zorn was an undrafted rookie who started for Seattle in 1976, but Zorn had spent time in an NFL training camp the previous year.

Also making his debut at practice was quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, who was acquired by Buffalo in a trade that sent linebacker Chris White to Detroit on Sunday night.

The Bills did welcome safety Jairus Byrd back to practice for the first time since the two-time Pro Bowl player signed his one-year, $6.9 million franchise tender last week.

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