Buffalo Bills: Don’t count out EJ Manuel just yet


EJ Manuel still has time to show he can be the Buffalo Bills main man

If you believe what you read, then EJ Manuel appears to be the odd man out in the chase for the Buffalo Bills starting quarterback job. The Buffalo News and nfl.com are just two of the media outlets who believe he’s on the outside looking in.

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In fairness, there is some rationale in making this assumption. During Sunday’s practice, Tyrod Taylor and Matt Cassel alternated reps with the first team offense, while Manuel worked exclusively with the third team.

Furthermore, the 25-year old will play with this same unit for the upcoming game against the Cleveland Browns. Taylor is scheduled to get the start, with Cassel coming in as his replacement sometime in the first half.

Rex Ryan discussed the current state of play with the media, including Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News: “He’s going to get the majority of the game running with that group this second preseason game.

“We’re going to put Tyrod in and mix in Matt. As the week goes on, don’t be surprised if (Manuel) does get some twos (reps).”

As you’d expect, the Bills head coach refused to rule Manuel out of the quarterback competition and told reporters not to read too much into anything. Unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what the media has done.

Jul 31, 2015; Pittsford, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) puts on his helmet during training camp at St. John Fisher College. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan said: “I know you guys want to look into anything, but I don’t think you need to…It’s been the same type of rotation for probably three weeks.”

He didn’t help his argument, when asked directly if Manuel will get any more reps with the first team: “I’m not going to paint myself into a corner. I’ve learned through six years of experience you never say that.”

Unfortunately for the 2013 16th overall draft pick, things don’t sound too promising. However, that doesn’t mean he should give up just yet.

While Taylor impressed most against the Carolina Panthers in the opening preseason game, Manuel had his moments as well. He completed four of eight passes, including the highlight of the game, a spectacular 51-yard touchdown bomb to Deonte Thompson.

Keep in mind that the Virginia Beach, Virginia native also had to overcome playing with the reserves. As well as some untimely drops by the receivers, he had to contend with two consecutive bad snaps by center Alex Kupper.

With just three games remaining until the real action begins, the Bills are trying to assert some chemistry and rhythm on offense. As such, the more time that goes by, the less likely it is that Manuel can work his way back into favor (no matter what Ryan says).

As this point, all the 2013 Senior Bowl MVP can do is continue to work hard and give it his all. If he can come up with similar highlights to the Browns game, it will become harder for Ryan and the Bills coaching staff to ignore him.

Make no mistake about it, the fat lady is in the wings warming up. However, until she actually starts singing, Manuel still has a chance.

The 2012 ACC Champion has all the talent and pedigree in the world, with everything you look for in a franchise quarterback. It’s now up to him to show what he can do, before that undoubted potential turns into a wasted opportunity.

Next: Which Bills receivers will make the final cut?

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